Jim Merrill was elected to the SC House for District 99 in 2000 and was never challenged in an election again. I believe that lack of accountability is why he was able to commit 30 counts of ethics violations and illegally accept over $1 million dollars from special interest groups with business before the SC House.
In 2016, the political consultant was indicted and he adamantly denied any wrongdoing, but by 2017, the full extent of the corruption had been uncovered and Merrill plead guilty to lesser counts and agreed to help investigators. Clearly, he had lied and evidence surfaced the corruption went back to 2002. It is a shame the district had been drawn to secure a victory for the Republican leader for years to such an extent that no credible challengers ran against him.
That is why in 2017, Republicans lined up to run for the vacant seat. It was such a crowded field, there were two elections in 2017 to decide which Republican would go on to the general election. In January 2018, Nancy Mace faced Democratic challenger, Cindy Boatwright in a special election to serve the remaining year of Merrill’s term. It was not surprising when Mace, a seasoned political consultant who had worked on multiple Republican campaigns including Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and had also run against Lindsay Graham in the 2014 Republican Primary beat political newcomer Boatwright.
I was fortunate to meet Cindy Boatwright and work on her campaign. During that time, I realized Cindy would be a new voice in our district that cared more about the people here than advancing her own career. When Cindy decided she could not subject her family to another run, I stepped in with her blessing to run for the seat in the general election. It comes as no surprise to me that Mace is annoyed she has a challenger for the seat that historically was bought and paid for by special interest groups for the incumbent. She has decided to exploit the oddly drawn District that favors the Republican Party so heavily and refuses to debate or discuss the important issues facing our legislature. She believes nothing has changed in the year since she ran for the seat in the special election and does not believe her constituents deserve a choice like the other residents of SC have for this election.
I have a few thoughts about that. First, no one gets a pass for reelection. That is the mentality that has gotten us rabid corruption in every level of our government including energy and transportation. If she wants to run for a second term, she should be accountable to the voters in this district. Second, is she so afraid of her own record and positions, she cannot defend them in public? After serving a year in the State House, she will not stand before her constituents and defend her voting history. Perhaps she is afraid what her constituents will think about her regressive approach to fighting for the people in District 99.