Veteran candidate, newcomer vie in 1st District

Linda Ketner

The two 1st Congressional District candidates vying for the Democratic Party's nomination may agree on some issues, but their political backgrounds are starkly different. Linda Ketner has never run for office before. Her opponent, Ben Frasier, has run 17 times without getting elected.

Ketner, a philanthropist and businesswoman, said she is running on her experience working for charitable causes in the Lowcountry and in the state.

"I think I have a record of making things happen for South Carolinians that are a positive," she said. "I think that what we need is somebody who has the kind of background I have, strategic planning management-oriented background who can go in and look at some of our problems with a business model."

While some might get discouraged by losing 17 elections, Frasier, a businessman who splits his time between Charleston County and Maryland, said he hopes to build on the name recognition that he feels comes from having had his name on the ballot every two years since 1972, except for two election cycles.

"I'm running in the name of faith. You've got to have faith to do what I'm doing," he said. "No money. You need faith."

Frasier said he considers himself the underdog in the June 10 primary, partly because he is mostly bankrolling his own campaign, which hasn't filed a report with the Federal Election Commission.

Ketner already had raised more than $400,000 as of March 31, the last reporting period, and her campaign has signs, bumper stickers and radio ads.

Frasier had to spend some of his money on an attorney to argue that he should remain on the ballot. A Dorchester County woman questioned whether he actually lived in the 1st District, citing evidence of his home and business ties in Maryland. Her protest was turned down by the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

Frasier said most members of Congress have homes in Washington and back home, and his Maryland ties won't affect his ability to keep in touch with the district, he said.

Ketner said she would work to improve the state's graduation rate, wages and unemployment picture. "We lose more jobs overseas to the global economy (per capita) than any other state in the union," she said. "That really concerns me."

She said she also would push to establish workable laws to reform the nation's illegal immigration problem.

"We're a nation of laws, and one of the things that's been disturbing about the immigration situation is that we haven't followed those laws. We have to establish laws that we're willing and able to follow through on as a government," she said.

Ketner said the economy has to be the No. 1 issue because of the rising cost of milk and gas.

"Fiscal responsibility needs to be more than a slogan. It needs to be a reality. We need to have tax considerations across the board, not just for the top 1 percent," Ketner said.

Frasier, who has been interested in politics since working for the late U.S. Rep. L. Mendel Rivers, said he favors creating more jobs, providing more access to health care and prescription drugs, improving education, reducing dependence on foreign oil, closing the borders to illegal immigrants, bringing the troops home from Iraq and giving those troops good benefits.

On social issues, he said he is against abortion except in cases incest or where it threatens the mother's health, and that he favors putting the 10 commandments in public buildings. He also opposes gay marriage but is in favor of civil unions.

Frasier said he was diagnosed with germ cell cancer after the 2006 election, but has recovered.

The 1st Congressional District covers the central and northern parts of South Carolina's coast, with all or parts of Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

Linda Ketner

Birthdate: May 12, 1950.

Family: Not married.

Education: Bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; master's degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Honorary doctorate in sociology from Columbia College.

Occupation: President, KSI Leadership and Management Development.

Previous elected office: None.

Why are you running for office?: "I'm running for Congress because we need change in Washington. I've spent most of my life in South Carolina working on behalf of our state and coastal communities, and I can't stand by another day while South Carolina, and our country, suffer under bad decisions, waste, short-term thinking and those who blindly follow a failing party line."

What's the toughest issue facing the nation?:"The state of our economy is by far the most pressing issue facing our nation, the 1st Congressional District, and every community within it. Fiscal responsibility has to be more than a slogan, it has to rule every decision that we make."

Ben Frasier

Birthdate: July 6, 1942.

Family: Married.

Education: Degree from Haut Gap High School; attended Vorhees College and Howard University.

Occupation: Self-employed owner of transportation safety and private investigating companies.

Previous elected office: None.

Why are you running for office?:"People are ready for a change, and I think I'm the one with the background. I've run so many times."

What is the toughest issue facing the nation?:"Education. We have a lot of people with no education, no high-tech training, nothing. It's very hard to get a start without education."