May 19--LEXINGTON COUNTY SC -- The contest for state representative in the southwest corner of Lexington County offers a contrast in Republican conservatives.
Challenger Perry Finch describes himself as "libertarian-leaning" compared to the traditional conservatism of incumbent Kit Spires.
The pair face off at the June 10GOP primary balloting in House District 96.
It's a contest being waged in an area of farms, the small towns of Gaston, Pelion and Swansea, and surrounding neighborhoods as well as suburbs sprouting in the Boiling Springs, Edmund, Pond Branch and Red Bank areas.
For Finch, it's his first race for office after his attempt for the State Senate in 2012 ended when he was among more than 200 candidates disqualified in a snafu over disclosure of personal finances.
He sees the post as the way to crusade against what he views as steady erosion of personal privacy -- mainly at the federal level -- through steps such as new health insurance requirements and use of telephone calls to trace terrorism.
"I can't sit down and shut up," Finch said. "States have go to start standing up to the federal government."
He won't always adhere to what Gov. Nikki Haley wants, saying he "disagrees with her on several things" even though both are Republicans.
Finch isn't taking many shots at Spires other than to say the incumbent is too much "a middle-of-the-roader."
Spires describes himself as a low-key lawmaker working mostly for constituents who need help with state agencies.
"A lot of it up here (at the State House) is making contacts," he said.
Many of the proposals he's sponsored involve revisions in health care procedures, but he also helped push through a recent crackdown on drunken drivers.
In time, Spires would like to eliminate property taxes for those 65 and older. That's a step other lawmakers say would be devastating since the tax is the main revenue source for counties, municipalities and schools.
He said its' important to him that residents can find him regularly behind the counter at the drugstore he owns, adding his presence helps overcome "the sense that we (politicians) can't be trusted."
Winning the Republican match is tantamount to victory at the subsequent Nov. 4 ballot since no Democrat is running.
Occupation: Operator of door and window installation company; farmer
Community: Pelion area
Political experience: State representative since 2007; Pelion town councilman 1999-2003
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.
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