MOUNT PLEASANT -- Carroll Campbell III, a Charleston businessman and son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell, formalized his entry into the 1st Congressional District race Wednesday and wasted no time blasting a fellow Republican, incumbent Rep. Henry Brown.
"I have been in the Wendy's restaurant business. And when I take a look at Mr. Brown's record, I have to ask, 'Where's the beef?'" Campbell said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Brown's beef is nothing but pork."
Standing on this town's new pier under the Cooper River bridge -- a setting chosen because of the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the Columbus Street Terminal in the background, Campbell vowed to break from
"backslapping, old-style" politics and fight to curtail spending in Washington, to push for simpler, fairer taxes and to promote new jobs in South Carolina.
Brown later fired back, saying his voting record is more conservative than the record compiled by Campbell's father, who represented the 4th Congressional District in the early 1980s.
"For that guy to just say I've been a bum riding on somebody else's wave, that's just tacky, real disrespectful," Brown said. "His daddy would never have been disrespectful. His daddy was a team builder."
Brown also said the bridge that Campbell stood under was something he helped fund both as a state lawmaker and then in Congress.
"I just want people to listen to reason and not political hype," Brown said.
Campbell, who has not sought public office before, was joined by his family, including mother Iris, brother Mike and fiancee Tracey Amick, a reporter with WCSC-TV.
Given the nickname "Tumpy" as a child, Campbell is chairman of Carroll Campbell Associates, a consulting firm. He also has served on the State Ports Authority board and as chairman of the Palmetto Alzheimer's Association board, which fights the disease that claimed his father in 2005.
Campbell criticized Brown for supporting last year's $700 billion bank bailout and $5.2 billion farm bill and for being among the biggest-spending congressmen when it comes to sending mail to constituents.
"You will know I'm fighting for you in Washington," Campbell said. "You won't need to receive newsletters from me to know what I'm doing."
Brown defended his mailings, some of which have asked 1st District voters for their opinions on issues. "I run into people all the time who say, 'You're the only elected official that really asks me what I thought about a situation.' We don't abuse it," Brown said, adding that Congress has provided money for expenses.
Campbell also criticized Brown for fighting for earmarks. "He will argue he is bringing home the bacon. Well, that's exactly how our nation has gotten into debt," said Campbell, who stopped short of saying he would never seek an earmark.
Brown said he voted for $350 billion to bail out banks and said the financial system could have collapsed without that help.
"It's appalling to me that he doesn't understand Democrats are in charge and the big spending is by the Obama administration," Brown said. "When we were in charge, we actually reduced taxes."
Brown also said the state lost its AAA credit rating in 1993, toward the end of Gov. Campbell's tenure, but Brown, then a member of the S.C. Budget and Control Board, helped get it back three years later.
Political maneuvering around the 2010 1st Congressional seat election began not long after Brown narrowly won a fifth term against Democrat Linda Ketner last November.
Ketner has said she won't run next year, but state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, former state Rep. Robert Barber and Iraq War veteran Robert Burton of Mount Pleasant all are considering running as Democrats. On the Republican side, Brown and Campbell are expected to be joined by Katherine Jenerette of North Myrtle Beach.