State Rep. Chip Limehouse said his re-election campaign centers on his almost 20 years of service to the district, including property tax breaks and support for key infrastructure projects like the Ravenel Bridge and Crosstown drainage, and harbor deepening.
Challenger Russell Guerard said if elected, he would push for ethics reform, including the creation of some independent council to oversee state lawmakers. But he said he also would fight for reducing the state's income tax and supporting new infrastructure and education.
Both agree that the June 10 primary vote will be a sort of referendum on Limehouse, who has held the seat since 1995.
"Obviously, the campaign for me is about my record and history of service to this district, particularly as it relates to cutting taxes," Limehouse said.
"I think Chip has overplayed his hand," Guerard said. "I think he has stayed at the poker table too long."
Limehouse cited his support for 2006 tax reform that raised the sales tax and cut property taxes -a big priority for many in downtown Charleston's historic district, where home prices have soared with the city's popularity.
While both have run mostly positive campaigns, not unexpected in what some consider the nation's most mannerly city, Limehouse supporters have questioned Guerard's Republican loyalty. Guerard said he has voted Republican about 98 percent of the time and defended his family's 2008 donation to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen, a friend of his Guerard's wife Tara.
"That's all they have on me - that my wife wrote a check to Vincent Sheheen four years ago," Guerard said. "That's it."
Meanwhile, Guerard questioned why Limehouse, as chair of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, tried to get its executive director to report directly to him.
"Did he have any background in airport management? Any background in aviation? Is he a pilot?" Guerard asked, adding Limehouse's record "is not representative of the Lowcountry and Lowcountry values, in my opinion."
Limehouse has not said much about Guerard, who he knows but not particularly well. "I don't know enough about him to make a judgment," Limehouse said. "My experience speaks for itself."
Limehouse has raised $22,822 this cycle and began with a war chest of $125,000. Guerard has raised $32,520 but had just a little more than $6,100 on hand as of May 24, according to the most recent campaign disclosure forms.
Guerard said plans to raise more money but won't air any TV ads, while Limehouse said he doesn't expect to but wouldn't rule it out.
Guerard said he recognizes that running against an incumbent is difficult, adding, "I'm thinking I'm going to win, but I'm not thinking blowout."
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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