Democrat Tom Elliott said the only reason he is running for commissioner of agriculture is because he couldn't get anybody else to run against incumbent Hugh Weathers.
"He is the most arrogant, self-centered person who ever served in public office," Elliott said. "The Agriculture Department deserves a good commissioner. It doesn't have a good one with him. It probably wouldn't have a good one with me. I just want to get him out of office."
The 81-year-old retired businessman, former lawmaker and part-time farmer from Eastover blames Weathers for steering the new State Farmers Market to Lexington County through a public-private partnership. He preferred a site in Richland County.
"I would build the farmers market in a place that would benefit people," Elliott said. "The best place is where I can get votes."
The new farmers market was supposed to go to a site in Richland County on Pineview Road just east of Interstate 77 off Shop Road, but Weathers didn't think the proposal would work well with market wholesalers, so he supported another site off U.S. Highway 321 in Lexington County where wholesalers would have an ownership stake.
The new $85 million market, the size of seven Walmart Supercenters combined, already is open and will be fully operational when the last vendors leave the long-standing Bluff Road site Oct. 29.
The University of South Carolina bought the old farmers market and plans to use it for parking during events at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The new market can be seen from Interstate 26 near where it intersects with Interstate 77.
Weathers said the public- private partnership for the farmers market is costing the state half as much as the former Richland County site, about $22.5 million versus $50 million.
Elliott doesn't like anything about the new market.
"It's in such an out-of-the-way place, nobody will go there anyway," he said.
Elliott said he doesn't have an organized campaign or any money "but David slew Goliath."
He called the Certified S.C. campaign to buy local agricultural products "a farce" but promised to make sure grocery store sales and gas pumps measure correctly to make sure consumers aren't being shorted.
"I'm capable of running the Department of Agriculture," Elliott said. "I just know he needs replacing."
Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524.