Five challengers take on Rice for U.S. District 7 congressional seat

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina's 7th Congressional District seat is up for grabs.

This year, a total of six candidates are vying for the position.

Incumbent Congressman Tom Rice faces one candidate in the Republican primary this Tuesday, and four Democratic candidates are fighting to face the GOP winner in the November election.

The winner of the 7th Congressional District race will serve Horry, Georgetown, Florence, Darlington, Dillon, Marion, Marlboro and Chesterfield counties. Rice, the former Horry County Council chairman, was elected into office in 2012.

While in Congress, Rice's focus has always been on jobs and the economy. The incumbent is also a strong advocate for the building of Interstate 73, and he held a seat in crafting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Rice also worked to secure $80 million for beach renourishment and helped secure $52 million in Hurricane Matthew relief.

The Republican challenger facing Rice is local business owner Larry Guy Hammond, a Myrtle Beach resident for almost 25 years.

Hammond said he has an entrepreneur's spirit and believes District 7 is missing out on higher-paying jobs such as engineering and skilled manufacturing. He wants to bring in those industries to help raise household incomes.

He added that South Carolina has the worst roads and bridges in America. Hammond, too, is a big supporter of building I-73.

First up on the Democratic side is S.C. Rep. Robert Williams, who is running for re-election for District 62 in addition to running for Congress. The Darlington native was elected into office 12 years ago.

Williams is a 20-year Army veteran with the South Carolina National Guard and served in Iraq. In the 2017 legislative session, he served on the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, and is currently a business development consultant.

Next is Coker College Professor Mal Hyman, who has taught sociology and political science at the school for three decades.

Hyman said the wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes to reasonably invest in America. He is a believer in Medicare for all and said Washington is dysfunctional. He stressed he is running to rebuild infrastructure, make college affordable and develop reasonable gun control laws.

Bill Hopkins is a Democratic candidate who lives in Pawleys Island. He calls himself the lead lawyer on behalf of South Carolina taxpayers and the under-served.

At the top of Hopkins' list is jobs and trade. He said District 7 has too many struggling families, so he wants to work for better trade deals that benefit workers locally instead of foreign countries. He added there are good and bad things about Obamacare, but believes the answer is not to totally repeal it.

Finally, Dr. Bruce Fischer is a U.S. Army Veteran who has a PhD in clinical psychology. He is retired and lives in Longs.

Fischer's stance on healthcare is to support national improved Medicare for all. He said strengthening the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should be a top priority in Congress and he wants to apply common sense measures on gun violence and thinks doing so means universal background checks.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, and close at 7 p.m. Stick with WMBF on air and online for team coverage of local and state races.

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