Senate 41 rivals spar in forum

Thurmond

Democrat Paul Tinkler and Republican Paul Thurmond spent their second joint appearance in two days picking up where their TV ads left off.

They appeared Tuesday before about 100 members and guests of the Rotary Club of Charleston and made their differences clear. Both are seeking the District 41 state Senate seat formerly held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.

Tinkler, a former Charleston city councilman, said he is running to try to restore public trust in state government, noting a series of ethical questions facing state officials this year. He again noted Thurmond received $100,000 as a lobbyist for helping push through a sale of land to the county at a price some felt was too high.

Thurmond, a former Charleston County councilman, decried Tinkler’s “politics of personal destruction” and added, “You don’t resolve ethical issues by bringing somebody into the mud.”

The two also clashed over tax issues, with Thurmond calling for reducing taxes on small businesses. Tinkler said he wanted to repeal the 2006 Act 388, which swapped property taxes for sales taxes to fund public schools.

Thurmond said undoing that legislation would cause homeowners’ tax bills to double.

“I am not the tax-and-spend liberal that Mr. Thurmond depicts me to be. I am not the bloodsucking mosquito that he shows me to be on his ads,” Tinkler said. “I believe Mr. Thurmond is being intentionally inaccurate by depicting my record as being a record of tax increases.”

Both candidates voiced support for tax reform, though Thurmond noted Tinkler supports President Barack Obama and “is talking out both sides of his mouth with regards to that.”

Thurmond also noted some Democrats did not want any Republican to challenge Tinkler and he is proud that he is the only one of some 230 candidates across South Carolina to survive questions over filing their ethics form properly.

The two also sparred over Tinkler’s ad in which he barbs Thurmond for voting to spend $900,000 to renourish the beach at Wild Dunes, a private resort on the Isle of Palms. Thurmond said all County Council members present voted in favor of it.

“What he didn’t tell you is that was money from the accommodations tax that had to be spent on tourism,” he said.

Tuesday’s meeting is expected to be their last joint appearance before their Nov. 6 election.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.