Walker faces challenge from Millwood for S.C. House seat in Tuesday’s primary

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Editor&squo;s note; Joey Millwood, an employee of the Bulletin, is challenging incumbent Bob Walker in the Republican Primary for S.C. House District 38. The Bulletin does not support or endorse either Millwood or Walker.

by Chris Dailey

Back in January South Carolina voters had an early say in the U.S. presidential primaries. Now they&squo;ll go back to the polls to pick party nominees for numerous other races at the state and local levels.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

One of those is the local race between incumbent Bob Walker and challenger Joey Millwood, who are vying for the Republican nomination for S.C. House District 38. The winner in the primary is expected to capture the seat for the heavily Republican district in the fall election.

Walker, 65, has served in the S.C. House seat since 1993, and is currently chairman of the Education and Public Works Committee. Millwood, 28, has been involved with the Spartanburg County Republican Party. Both are residents of the Landrum area.

Millwood has been critical of what he sees as excessive spending in Columbia, and says more conservative leadership is needed. Walker says he has worked to constrain state spending and has brought significant tax relief to citizens in recent years.

Both candidates support regulations against illegal immigration, a leading topic at the state level this year. Walker recently helped pass a bill on illegal immigration that requires businesses to verify the citizenship of prospective employees.

Perhaps one key area of difference between the two candidates centers around education. Millwood says he supports tax credits for parents who would like to send their children to private schools. Walker does not support such credits.

According to Millwood, South Carolina needs to consider innovative ideas such as tax credits as a means of improving the education system.

&dquo;When you&squo;re constantly at the bottom in the nation, you&squo;ve got to step outside the box and realize that what you&squo;re doing isn&squo;t working,&dquo; says Millwood. &dquo;What we need to do is give South Carolina parents and students options. I do not support vouchers, but I do support tax credits.&dquo;

Millwood says he knows what it&squo;s like to be in a failing school, having attended Z.L. Madden, which is now closed, and Whitlock Junior High, which is now run by the state.&bsp; He says he wishes his parents had a choice then to send him to a private school.

&dquo;This country was founded on competition. It&squo;s just un-American to not support competition,&dquo; says Millwood. &dquo;We&squo;ve got to think about our children and our state.&dquo;

Walker says he does not support taking public money and giving it&bsp; to private schools without holding the private schools to the same accountability standards as the public schools. &dquo;They want the money and no accountability,&dquo; he says.

Walker adds that he helped push through legislation last year that took education funding off the state property tax. He says that tax relief gives citizens the chance to use the savings for a private school education if they choose.

Walker says Millwood and some other state candidates are getting support from outside special interests that are pushing tax credits and vouchers for private schools. According to the Spartanburg Herald Journal, organizations such as South Carolinians for Responsible Government (SCRG), a group partially funded by New York millionaire Howard Rich, are sending out literature supporting Millwood and other challengers, along with mailers that are critical of Walker and other incumbents.

Walker says the literature is not all factual, particularly some that claims he approved a pay raise for state legislatures. &dquo;There&squo;s been a lot of stuff put into mailboxes and I hope people just don&squo;t take those points and live with them,&dquo; says Walker.

Millwood says he is not responsible for literature issued by the organizations. He says SCRG, along with S.C. Club for Growth and Conservatives in Action, have backed him because they like his positions on major issues facing the state, including education.

&dquo;Bob&squo;s only response to innovative thinking on education is to blame outside special interests for the stance,&dquo; he says.

The House District 38 seat is one of many races that South Carolina voters will cast ballots for tomorrow. The election also includes Republican primaries for U.S. Senate (Lindsey Graham and Buddy Witherspoon), U.S. House of Rep. District 4 (Bob Inglis and Charles Jeter), S.C. Senate District 12 (Lee Bright, Scott Talley and L.B. Watson) and Coroner (Rick Cherry and Rusty Clevenger). The election also includes Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate (Michael Cone and Bob Conley), U.S. House of Rep. District 4 (Ted Christian, Paul Corden and Bryan McCanless) and Coroner (Paula Punky Brewster and Jody Yarborough).

Polls will be open tomorrow in South Carolina from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.&bsp; Polling locations in the local area include Landrum United Methodist Church for Landrum, Landrum High School for Campobello, New Prospect Baptist Church, Gramling Methodist Church, Motlow Creek Baptist Church, Holly Springs Baptist Church and Gowensville Community Center.

Visit www.scvotes.org to check your precinct or to get more information about the election.