CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Earlier this week, state representative Nancy Mace secured the Republican nomination for South Carolina’s first congressional district race.
She will take on Democrat and incumbent Joe Cunningham, who is the first Democrat to hold the seat since the 1980′s. Live 5 News spoke to both of them on Thursday and their full responses are below.
How are you feeling after Tuesday’s primary election?
Mace: “Ecstatic and excited but it’s also very humbling because we won by 30 points. To win by that big of a margin, I really worked hard to unify Republicans throughout the primary and I think that’s a key indicator for how well we were able to do that. That’s going to be really important in the general election, to bring people together and to have unity: Republications, Independents and even Democrats too, that’s a big part of our message going forward and I’m really excited about it.”
What’s going on with your team this week?
Cunningham: “It’s extremely busy and the election is in November, and we’ll focus on that as it gets closer. Obviously, there’s a lot of issues that people and small businesses are struggling with , this pandemic and racial injustice, and it’s just so busy the time right now and our office is solely focused on helping out people through these issues and through these problems. There’s time for a campaign down the road, but we’ve got a lot of large issues right now that need to be addressed today.”
What are some big issues you’d like to tackle?
Mace: “Some of the issues like jobs and the economy would probably be top of the list. Previous to COVID-19, the Lowcountry had a 1.86% unemployment rate and wages were very good too so we’ve got to have a discussion on policy and how we get back to work, how we get more people into their jobs they did have and how to support small businesses. And there’s a way to go about doing that. But also healthcare; COVID-19 has also shown us we have real fissures in our healthcare system and we need to address those from a regulation standpoint, from a healthcare standpoint, all of those need to be addressed and also going to that is regulations.
"What we’ve learned is that too much of our products are made in China even our pharmaceuticals, 85% of our active ingredients are made overseas so we’ve got to address policy that brings our manufacturing back to the United States so in the event we have another major pandemic like we have now, our supply chain will not be as adversely impacted because of that which is largely due to regulations but also tax policy I think needs to be a part of that.
"Another thing I want to discuss is non-partisanship. In an age where there’s so much division in both parties, right now we need leadership, compassionate leadership, that can be truly independent and non-partisan and also in looking at the protests happening around the country, being a good listener and listening to our African American communities and working on policy that can actually get done and make a real improvement in the lives of those communities. These are all issues I’ve worked on as a state lawmaker and I look forward to having this debate in the future as this race goes on.”
Cunningham: “Obviously, this pandemic has taken front stage and we’re proud the stimulus package that did pass that helped out small business but we’re also proud of the PPP Flexibility Act that fixed a lot of those problems in the underlying bill. We just want to make sure small businesses get up and going, are strong and the economy can get stronger even stronger than it was before this. But I’m going to continue to focus on the issues that matter to constituents and issues that matter to the Lowcountry whether it’s making sure veterans receive the quality healthcare that they deserve. Take for instance the bill just a month or two ago that I introduced that got signed into law by the President, which is going to help veterans appeal any claims they may have from the comfort of their own home. It’s a big win for veterans. And with our district having the highest number of veterans than any district in the state, we have that responsibility. And we’re also going to continue fighting for our coastline and our natural resources in that committee and making sure that our environment, our beaches, our way of life is preserved and it can be passed along to future generations."
“We ran our last campaign on putting Lowcountry over party and people over politics and that’s not just a catch phrase, that’s something we apply every single day. The chamber just awarded me with an award, one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, I’ve been named as one of the most independent members of Congress and the most bipartisan member of my freshman class. Folks down here in the Lowcountry know I’m not afraid to buck my own party when it comes to putting people first. They’ve seen that when I fought back against my own party when they tried to raise their own salaries, or they saw it when I fought against the Pro Act which would undermine South Carolina’s right-to-work laws, they’ve seen it time and time again that I’m not afraid to stand on my own two feet. I think at the end of the day people here in the Lowcountry want someone who’s not beholden to a party or to a president, but beholden to them and that’s what we’ve been fighting for and that’s what I’ll continue to fight for as long as I’m fortunate to represent the first district.”
Let’s talk about COVID-19. How can SC residents be better and help stop the spread?
Mace: “We all knew that as we started to reopen our economy and restart that economic engine that cases would increase... the state and private labs they all have the ability to test more people so again those numbers are increasing. So when I look at it, I do think our economy needs to reopen. I do believe that we can still social distance people can wear masks and wash their hands and if they’re older or have underlying health conditions, they should stay home longer. But the entire economy shut down, people can’t pay their rent can’t pay their mortgages, there are dire economic and even health consequences to having 100 percent shut down. And we’ve got to be able to balance the health and safety of our community with getting back to work as well, and I think both can be done at the same time and that’s the policy I’m pushing going forward."
Cunningham: “I’ve said from the beginning, this discussion needs to be led with facts and science and nothing should be partisan about this discussion. And it is concerning to me to see the number of cases go up. We’ve got to keep an eye on the infection rate because as we begin to test more people, the number of cases naturally will go up, but keep an eye on that infection rate. And recognizing that the state may impose certain restrictions on businesses or individuals, but aside from that, we all have a personal responsibility. So if you live with someone who is elderly or has a compromised immune system, you may want to take extra precaution before going out to eat or gathering with numerous people. So people need to be aware of that and apply that to their lives.”
Why should voters pick you in November?
Mace: "I grew up here in the Lowcountry, I’m from Goose Creek. A lot of folks know me as the first woman to graduate form The Citadel. I’ve done everything from a Waffle House waitress, business woman and a single mom, so when we talk about those issues and communities and voters that are out there, I’ve walked in a lot of those shoes. And I’ve worked hard for the Lowcountry in my role as a state lawmaker and I can promise you no one is going to work harder than I will for the first congressional district. I love our community and look forward to being a good listener on the campaign trail. I want to earn the trust and confidence of voters and of course I want to earn their vote in November.
Cunningham: “I’m a firm believer that if you do what you say you’re going to do and you’re transparent about it, that people will send you back. We’ve got the proof points to establish that I’ve been one of the most bipartisan member of Congress, the most bipartisan member of my freshman class. I’ve been fighting hard for veterans and getting resources back here to the Lowcountry for our constituents and again, we’ve got a lot to showcase during this election campaign. The campaign will come at a later date, right now we’ve got to continue focusing on issues people face here today.”