CONWAY — Those who were expecting the second debate between 7th District candidates Gloria Tinubu and Tom Rice to be a snooze fest Tuesday night got a big surprise if they were in CCUs Wheelwright Auditorium to watch it unfold.
Time and again, Democrat Tinubu and Republican Rice threw down gauntlets that were refuted and re-refuted.
In one exchange, Tinubu accused Rice of driving away jobs by working to downplay the importance of motorcycle rallies to the Grand Strand economy. Rice countered by saying that the rallies were bad for business and lessening their importance was a good thing.
That is absolutely not a federal issue, he added. I cant believe you brought that up.
On the matter of Tinubus support of unions, she said that unions are responsible for many historic benefits for workers and that S.C. could use their help as it ranks at or near the bottom in many economic indicators.
I say its time American workers get a raise. And thats what unions are for, she said.
Rice countered that S.C. is seeing impressive job growth because its a right to work state and Gov. Nikki Haley is focused on attracting industry.
Jobs are flocking here because we dont have unions, Rice said.
Theyre flocking here because they can exploit the people, Tinubu shot back.
The two candidates stuck to their oft-stated positions on too much government versus additional government help, and chances are that no ones vote changed by the heated exchanges.
Several of the 212 in the audience said before the event started that their minds were already made up and they couldnt think of much either candidate could say to change it.
Tinubu supporter Sarah Binkley said she might look more seriously at Rice if he gave some factual proposals rather than repeating his stump speech.
Rice supporter Manuel Vallarino said he wont change his mind because of Rices positions on planning, conservatism and accountability.
Im committed, said Rice supporter Tom Marchant. I favor the conservative stream that Mr. Rice represents.
I dont see any significant changes to what theyve already announced, Tinubu supporter Sandy Carson said. I think those at the top should pay more (taxes).
During the debate, Tinubu asserted that the U.S. corporate tax rate is the second lowest among 26 industrialized countries. Rice said that might be true if you figure the rate as a percent of gross domestic product, but in real terms its the second highest.
Rice said in his opening remarks that the U.S. is on the wrong track.
Were mortgaging our childrens future, he said. Jobs are too hard to come by.
Tinubu said she believes the race is about the economy.
What we really need in this district, she said, is someone who understands economics and economic development.
Voters will take to the polls on Nov. 6 to decide which candidate will fill the seat, which is a new district.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.