Arrington Cunningham composite (copy)

Republican Katie Arrington and Democrat Joe Cunningham, candidates for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

For voters, the stakes are high on Nov. 6. With GOP incumbent Mark Sanford's defeat by Katie Arrington in the June primary, the election will chart the course of the region for years to come as a new face will take care of the 1st Congressional District.

It's clear the two people who want to be Charleston's next member of Congress don't see eye to eye on a lot of the issues expected to pop up in Washington, D.C., in the months ahead.

Both Republican Arrington, 47, a one-term state lawmaker from Summerville, and Democrat Joe Cunningham, 36, a Charleston attorney making his first run for office, say they would be the best voice to represent the Lowcountry.

But they differ on how to do it.

What's also clear is that while both have policy goals, they run short on specifics on how to get there, be it in health care, addressing mental health or fixing transportation woes.

Here are highlights of the questions given each candidate by The Post and Courier. Read their full quoted submitted answers online at

Infrastructure: The differing perceptions of each other — as they see it — began immediately.

Arrington touted her Statehouse experience, saying she has a proven track record of working across the aisle to get the job done.

Cunningham said the district needs to elect someone who knows how to work across the aisle, and threw back at Arrington her words that she's called the election a race between good and evil.

Being a Republican, Arrington noted she'd have a leg up in Washington where Republicans are in charge. Her top priority is securing resources for local flooding mitigation projects, followed up by widening and expanding existing roads and bridges.

Cunningham was near identical in his infrastructure targets, naming funding for ports, flooding and drainage projects, bus rapid transit and completing Interstate 526 and widening Interstate 26.

Neither offered a new detailed plan to make this happen or get money flowing.

Offshore drilling: This was a significant point of difference, with their answers tied to geography.

Arrington said she has already spoken with the president, vice president and senior administration officials to advocate for an exemption for South Carolina, saying the future of whatever happens will be determined by a Republican administration and Congress.

She said the issue is one of local control but that she would advocate North Carolina and Georgia follow a South Carolina lead in saying "no."

Cunningham said he is adamantly opposed to expanding offshore drilling to the Atlantic coast and that any offshore accident or disaster wouldn't respect state lines. A spill in North Carolina or Georgia would be just as detrimental to the South Carolina coast, he said.

Abortion rights: The two couldn't be more diametrically opposed on the question whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

Arrington answered in the affirmative: "Yes. I am strongly pro-life."

Cunningham was briefer: "No," was his answer. Period.

Reducing gun violence: This question was asked in the context of the Oct. 3 shooting of seven police officers in Florence. Two of the officers were killed. The alleged shooter was found to be in possession of more than 125 guns.

Arrington said she would never waver on the Second Amendment, and opposes any additional restrictions on gun ownership. The federal government needs to enforce the laws on the books, she said.

Additionally, she said "we" need to provide better resources for the treatment for mental illness.

Cunningham said it is impossible to legislate away evil but "we" can take common sense steps to keep criminals and the mentally unstable from legally purchasing weapons. He backs universal background checks, a ban on bump stocks and closing the Charleston loophole identified as how Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof acquired his weapon despite his arrest record.

Sign up for updates!

Get the latest political news from The Post and Courier in your inbox.

Making college cheaper: Both candidates were in partial agreement in their answers to this question in saying that obtaining a college education is no longer the road to success it used to be and other paths are just as honorable.

Many current members of Congress have also made this call.

Arrington said the federal government should reprioritize education dollars and provide more opportunities for vocational education and technical colleges to better prepare young people to enter the workforce.

Cunningham mirrored this approach, saying post high school education goals shouldn't always have to focus on traditional, four-year colleges, saying Congress needs to increase incentives for apprenticeships and trade school options.

Making health care more accessible: The candidates had diverging suggestions here.

Arrington called for repealing and replacing Obamacare while keeping protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Some of her ideas include allowing interstate competition in the insurance market, greater transparency in health care billing and expanding the tax benefit for health insurance to individuals.

Cunningham said the Affordable Care Act wasn't perfect but is worth keeping what has worked. His ideas included encouraging the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to lower medication prices for people on Medicare, allowing more middle-class families to qualify for tax breaks to reduce their health care costs and exploring lowering the Medicare age requirement from 65 to 55 over the course of 10 years.

Trump, good or bad for South Carolina? Not much of surprise here: They are split about the president.

Arrington spoke in glowing terms of the administration's accomplishments, from the low unemployment rate, including for minorities, to the tax cuts putting thousands of dollars into the pockets of families and the continued push for deregulation.

The state's political power is also in play, she pointed out, with Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott friendly with Trump, who has backed her campaign.

Cunningham said the nation's politics was in bad shape long before Trump came on the scene, adding that his election has only exacerbated the "us-versus-them mentality" in America.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.