Archie Parnell should be in the U.S. Congress

Archie Parnell should be in the U.S. Congress

The U.S. Congress today is hyper-partisan, divisive, shallow, parochial, corrupted by money, driven by special interest, dominated by career politicians, poisoned by personal attacks, disrespectful of the voters, focused on the short term and rigidly ideological.

Archie Parnell should be in Congress because he is none of these things.

Most people in South Carolina have never heard of Archie Parnell and it is only recently that he has become more widely known once he decided to run for Congress in the special election in the 5th Congressional District. The election is on June 20.

First about Archie and then about the election.

Archie is a South Carolina home boy who grew up here, went away and made good, and came home to do something to help his neighbors and his home state. It’s really that simple.

A native South Carolinian, Archie graduated from Sumter High School and then went on to USC and USC Law School. He became a tax attorney and worked in the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and the House Ways and Means Committee – back when the Congress was a civil place where people of different parties actually got along with each other.

From there Archie went on to have a very impressive career in business both in the U.S. and abroad working with some of the largest companies in the world. 

Archie’s campaign website says, “Archie is running for Congress to hold Washington accountable, and to get results for you and your family. He will bring his business experience, tax expertise, and South Carolina values of service, respect, hard work, and civility to Congress.”

If you read the issues section of his website (www.ArchieParnell.com) you’ll find that he’s a basic, common sense Democrat who supports reasonable polices that will make a real difference in the lives of the people he wants to represent.

So, what about the election?

For years, the 5th Congressional District was represented by John Spratt. Like Archie, Spratt was a whip smart Democratic attorney and businessman who was driven by a commitment to the people of the District and not to Washington ideologues. Spratt represented the District from 1982 to 2010. Since that time, the District has been represented by Republican Mick Mulvaney but a good number of Democrats are still getting elected to local offices.

The seat has now become open as Cong. Mulvaney was appointed head of the Office of Management and Budget by Pres. Trump. After a hard fought and close Republican primary, the winning candidate was former state Representative Ralph Norman. He defeated state Senator Tommy Pope who The State newspaper described as the ‘centrist’ candidate.

Best I know, I have never met Ralph Norman. I’m sure that he is a nice guy, goes to church on Sunday, loves his family and grandchildren (all 15 of them) and cares about his country. That said, his website (www.electralphnorman.com) and a little research shows that he is a very different candidate than Archie.

Although they have both been successful business people, Norman has been around politics for a while serving in the S.C. House from 2005-2006 and then again since 2009. During that time in Columbia and in the campaign, he’s taken some positions that are clearly out of the political mainstream. He is endorsed by the extremist Koch brothers’ Super PAC Club of Growth. And, according to research, he has even voted against relief aid to S.C. farmers that had major crop damage during the floods of 2015 and against an infrastructure bill that would improve S.C. roads and transportation.

As The State said, “Norman’s win leaves Democrats a little more hopeful they can flip the district. Norman, who resigned from his state House seat to run for Congress this year, has voted against a significant, bipartisan majority on several bills including one that would allow police officers to be eligible for workers compensation if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder … Norman also heavily embraced President Donald Trump.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, arguably the most divisive, ideological and probably most disliked member of the U.S. Senate, came to campaign for Norman. Cruz’s slash and burn, take no prisoner’s style of politics is not likely to sell well with the voters of the 5th Congressional District.

When Cruz ran for President in the 2016 S.C. Republican primary, he got only 22% of the vote statewide and did not carry a single county in the 5th Congressional District – and that was with only Republican voters.

When Norman won the Republican primary runoff, Parnell framed the choice this way: “Do we want a leader who fights for better wages, affordable healthcare and equal justice for all, or a career politician who ignores dangerous threats to our national security and thinks pregnancy should be a pre-existing condition? … This election isn’t about Democrat and Republican. It’s about the people. This is the people’s seat and it’s time we took it back.”

I would fame the choice this way: Do we really need more of the same Trump / Cruz / DC style of politics, i.e. hyper-partisan, divisive, shallow, parochial, corrupted by money, driven by special interest, dominated by career politicians, poisoned by personal attacks, etc.

Or, would we be better off with a moderate, smart, committed candidate who supports the kind of bread and butter issues that most people care about.

We will find out on June 20.

I have faith that the people of the 5th Congressional District will make the right choice – Archie Parnell.

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