The Republicans running for U.S. Senate this year sound very similar when it comes to answering the question of how Washington can best help South Carolina.

In a nutshell: most all say the federal government should get out of the way, and that D.C. should do more to mirror life in the Palmetto State.

On the flip side, Democrats on the ballot this year see Washington as a place where the federal government can fulfill its mission by helping with the state's problems in building roads, improving infrastructure and helping those at the bottom.

Some even say the anti-government rhetoric drummed up in the hostility of modern day political media has done more harm that good.

The Post and Courier recently asked the candidates in this year's two U.S. Senate races to answer three questions:

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Washington can help South Carolina most by ...?

And "If elected, I would ..."

Most pointed to family as their inspiration, while others noted military service or making accomplishments in previous elected office. Their answers appear inside today's South section.

The primary is June 10 for both political parties.

RepublicansDET BOWERS

Birthdate: April 14, 1952

Education: Wofford College, University of South Carolina Law, Columbia International University - Masters of Divinity.

Profession: minister, small businessman, attorney

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: "That I married the perfect woman for me (the former Polly Wyman). She's got to be the most tolerant person in the world too."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Being like South Carolina, rather than trying to make South Carolina like Washington. South Carolinians are gracious, kind, resolved and purposed to do what is right, even when it's not in their own personal best interests."

If elected, I would: "Do my best to make Washington look like South Carolina, and America look like heaven."

LEE BRIGHT

Birthdate: March 21, 1970

Education: Some college.

Profession: business development

Previous elected office: Incumbent state senator District 12, Spartanburg

Proudest accomplishment: "Staying true to the commitments I made when I ran for office. I have not wavered on any issues of principle. I'm proud of my relationship I have with my wife and my family. After serving six years in the state Senate I don't think I'm any different as a person than when I got elected."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Getting regulation out of the way of the citizens and getting spending under control. If we could get a natural gas permit to explore of the coast of South Carolina ... I think it would be a tremendous economic boon for the entire state."

If elected, I would: "fight the wasteful spending and return Washington back to the restraints of the Founding Fathers and return those powers back to the states and individuals where they belong. I would strengthen our military and maintain the intent that our military is to protect these United States and not be the police of the world."

RICHARD CASH

Birthdate: March 31, 1960

Education: Furman University, economics and business administration, 1982; Master's in Theology, 1990, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Profession: small business owner

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: "My wife and I have been blessed with eight children. I'm just watching them grow and discover and use their God-given talents and abilities. It's the greatest pleasure, one of the chief joys in life." Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Sticking within its constitutional boundaries and allowing the states to have the other responsibilities and authorities not given to the federal government, which is most of them."

If elected, I would: "Try to be a strong voice and vote representing South Carolina values and interests at the federal level. If elected, I would work hard to preserve our unique American heritage of Christianity, capitalism and the constitution."

BENJAMIN DUNN

Birthdate: Sept. 13, 1970

Education: Clemson University; USC Law

Profession: attorney

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: "First and foremost, my four kids. My service in Afghanistan." Dunn embedded with a training team as a captain with the Army National Guard in 2004-05.

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Leaving us alone. One of the main reasons I'm running is that I would actively divest power from Washington back to the states. I just think governments that are local governments closer to the people are going to better represent the people."

If elected, I would: "Tirelessly work to justify the confidence and trust placed in me by the people of South Carolina."

BILL CONNOR

Birthdate: Feb. 16, 1968

Education: The Citadel 1990; USC Law 2005

Profession: attorney

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: Connor, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, points to being a senior U.S. advisor to Afghan forces in Helmand, Afghanistan from 2007-08. He helped advising on fighting the Taliban. Some Afghan and British troops were killed during the time. "I didn't lose one American while I was there," he said, "despite it being a very active province." Also, receiving his Ranger shoulder tab.

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "The key thing is pulling back on the powers that be." Connor said there are certain ongoing federal government functions that have no business being run out of Washington, such as those covered by the Department of Education. "I really am sort of a free market guy that way."

If elected, I would: Connor again points to limiting the role of government to what is outlined in the Constitution. He did say Congress and the Pentagon are looking to go too far in the cuts now being kicked around post-Iraq and Afghanistan. "Congress should be fighting the kind of cuts we're seeing," he said. He also called for enforcement of current immigration laws.

LINDSEY GRAHAM

Birthdate: July 9, 1955

Education: University of South Carolina, 1976; USC law 1981

Profession: Incumbent U.S. Senator

Previous elected office: S.C. House of Representatives, 1993-94; U.S. Congress, 1994-02; Senate 2002-present

Proudest accomplishment: "Being a problem solver when it's not to my political benefit; setting in motion securing the port of Charleston; providing better health care and benefits to those who serve; being an effective voice for the conservative cause because I think my criticism is listened to."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "by responding to our legitimate needs. Deepening the port of Charleston is good for the entire Southeast. The Savannah River Site is a national treasure. And making sure that our military structure in South Carolina is well maintained because we provide great value for the country."

If elected, I would: "Make sure South Carolina's needs are met in Washington, from the port to I-73 to the Savannah River site; replace defense cuts that are killing the military; form a coalition to replace Obamacare; push hard for energy independence; make sure we aggressively confront radical Islam."

NANCY MACE

Birthdate: Dec. 4, 1977

Education: The Citadel, 1999; University of Georgia, Master's in communications

Profession: technology and business consultant

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: "Being a wife and a mom. Having a family just changes your perspective on everything and how important it is. Everything you do just ends up being for your family."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Getting out of the way. I do believe that the federal government has to get out of the way. They are in our lives, our homes, our business. They are off the beaten path. We are so far off from where this country started."

If elected, I would: "Cut taxes. I would stop sending foreign aid to countries who hate us and train terrorists to kill us (Mace names Egypt and Syria.) And I would not fight to get my hands on your personal phone, email and text records."

DemocratsBRAD HUTTO

Birthdate: Aug. 6, 1957

Education: University of South Carolina, 1978; Georgetown University Law School, 1981.

Profession: attorney

Previous elected office: state Senate District 40 incumbent, around Orangeburg and the Midlands, since 1996

Proudest accomplishment: "My efforts in relation to children's health and safety issues." Hutto points to ATV safety legislation, seat belt laws, and boating under the influence limits.

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Focusing on the quality of life and the needs of every day South Carolinians. I think that we've got to invest funds in South Carolina and part of that has to come from the federal government," he said, pointing to roads, infrastructure and the Port of Charleston.

If elected I would: "Do my best to represent all South Carolinians and make sure that the federal government is responsive to their needs."

JAY STAMPER

Birthdate: June 14, 1972

Education: Connecticut College, 1995.

Profession: business, real estate

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: Points to partnering with state government to help thousands of small businesses start up.

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Giving South Carolinians a raise. I support President Obama's initiative to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Nobody who works full time should have to live in poverty."

If elected, I would: "Stand up for senior citizens, veterans and the disabled, and work to expand Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."

U.S. Senate, unexpired termRepublicansTIM SCOTT

Birthdate: Sept. 19. 1965

Education: Charleston Southern University 1988

Profession: Incumbent U.S. Senator

Previous elected office: Charleston County Council, 1995-08; S.C. House, 2008-2011; U.S. Congress 2010-2012; U.S. Senate 2013-present.

Proudest accomplishment: "My faith is probably my proudest accomplishment, with no second." Following that, he pointed to the family support of his grandfather and mother, attributing his growth and success to their nurturing "enough good seed in a soil that finally -and the key word is 'finally' - started to germinate."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Eliminating onerous and unnecessary regulations. The red tape environment is destroying the ability for an entrepreneur to create more jobs."

If elected, I would: "Continue to work on my opportunity agenda that creates hope and opportunity for the least of us, as well as encourages and promotes opportunities for the middle class."

Randall Young

Unreachable; phone no longer in service; no campaign structure in place

DemocratsJOYCE DICKERSON

Birthdate: June 14, 1945

Education: Benedict College, 1992.

Profession: auditor, paralegal, retired

Previous elected office: Richland County Council, 2004-present

Proudest accomplishment: Helping to save the public transportation/bus system in Columbia through a referendum.

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "Making sure that we receive the funding in South Carolina that will help improve our roads. I really think we need to work on affordable health care."

If elected, I would: "Try to work across party lines and work with all areas of government." She favors raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and "I will refuse to let anyone privatize Social Security."

SIDNEY MOORE

Birthdate: June, 17, 1948

Education: University of South Carolina 1971, economics

Profession: retired telecommunications customer service

Previous elected office: York County Council, 1977-80

Proudest accomplishment: "I have two beautiful adult daughters. They're both married and have families of their own. I'm proud to have contributed to their well-being."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "We are in a situation now that there is a disdain for what the federal government can do for South Carolina." Moore favors a "reaffirmation of the notion that 'we the people' are the government and that government can be responsive to our needs."

If elected, I would: "Want to be very communicative with my constituents as to what's going on, what could be done." That means working with the Democratic leadership to break the D.C. gridlock, he said.

HARRY PAVILACK

Birthdate: Sept. 14, 1940

Education: Clemson University, 1962; USC law school, 1966.

Profession: lawyer, real estate businessman

Previous elected office: None

Proudest accomplishment: "I'm the founder of Save Our Cats." The charitable organization works to save feral and other roaming cats in the Horry County area. "I felt we accomplished something because at the time we went into it, cats had no rights whatsoever."

Washington can help South Carolina most by: "If we could really get the Republicans to stop cutting all the funds that go to the poor. There are people that need money to survive. The Republicans do it by saying they want to cut their debt, that's their theory."

If elected, I would: "Go to Washington and try to represent the people here in South Carolina in the best way that I could. I can't be bought; I can't be paid off and I'm not going to vote in a group vote like the Republicans do."