HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Republican State Senator Luke Rankin has held South Carolina state Senate seat for District 33 since 1993.
But come June 9, that seat is up for grabs.
Fellow Republicans John Gallman and Carter Smith also have their eyes on it. Neither has held an elected public office before.
Rankin, whose campaign signs tout him as “Our State Senator,” said serving the people of Horry County has been the greatest honor of his life.
“The Rankins are a known entity in Horry County," Rankin said.
But his opponents Smith and Gallman both say, now is the time for change.
Smith said South Carolina needs term limits.
“Term limits. I believe we need to rid our Senate of career politicians and get new innovative candidates into our Senate," Smith said.
“We’ve had a senator in Columbia for the past 27 years, that’s consistently voted like a Democrat,” Gallman said.
However, Rankin disputes those claims and said his long-serving stature in the Statehouse actually helps the people of Horry County.
“You know change is a nice thing at times, but the reality here in the state Senate is that we’re a seniority-based system. I have achieved a leadership position that helps us get things when others want things,” Rankin said.
Smith currently runs the Coastline Women’s Center and said to him, on top of term limits, what’s most important is passing pro-life legislation to restrict abortions.
“The main issues I want to get accomplished is the heartbeat bill and protect life,” Smith said.
Gallman, who currently is a financial advisor with Edward Jones, said restricting abortions is also at the top of his priorities.
He added he wants to protect the Second Amendment. Gallman said he’s also frustrated by the state of the Santee Cooper deal.
“We need to have justice for our ratepayers of Santee Cooper, and I would say no elected official should profit one penny off of the Santee Cooper nuclear debacle,” Gallman said.
Rankin said if he’s re-elected he’ll work to get Horry County’s economy back up and running again. He also said that roads and schools remain a focus, noting he’s already helped pass education reform.
Rankin said when it comes to his fellow candidates’ critique of his record while in office, he said he is proud of the work he’s done.
“Am I representing Horry County in a way that they can be proud of? They don’t have to agree with me on all issues but hopefully, there’s a sense of integrity, honesty, and transparency,” Rankin said.
Still Gallman has critiques.
“You’ve had someone who’s had 27 years to fix the roads and he hasn’t fixed the roads,” Gallman said.
Smith added that he just wants to serve the people in Horry County.
“My heart is to be a servant and to take care of people. So I want to make sure we take care of all the needs here in Horry County,” Smith said.
Smith, Gallman and Rankin will be on the ballot for South Carolina state Senate seat 33 on June 9.