Decision 2020: Three Democratic candidates vie for Rep. Tom Rice’s U.S. House seat

Decision 2020: Three Democratic candidates vie for Rep. Tom Rice’s U.S. House seat

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There are three Democratic candidates for South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District on the ballot for the June 9 Primary: Robert Williams, Melissa Watson and William ‘Cowboy’ Williams.

They’re all vying for the spot currently held by Republican Congressman Tom Rice.

Rice is running for re-election in November and is unopposed in the June primary.

Darlington native Robert Williams, an Army veteran, currently serves as the state representative for South Carolina’s 62nd District, which covers Darlington and Florence counties.

“I’ve been serving the people of South Carolina for the last 14 years. We want to bring about justice, we want to bring about equity for people to have here in South Carolina,” Williams said.

For Williams, this means focusing mostly on more affordable access to healthcare along with creating more, better paying jobs where the minimum wage is $13 to $15 an hour.

“Folks shouldn’t have to live off salary of $7.25 an hour to take care of their family. I want to bring sustainable jobs,” he said. “I want to bring jobs where folks don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.”

Melissa Watson was born and raised in Dillon.

The race is Watson’s first time running for an office, but believes what she calls are fresh perspectives on everyday American issues will resonate with voters.

“We need more people in Congress who understands what it’s like to work for a small business or have a small business or try to make ends meet with two jobs,” Watson said.

Watson’s platform includes better infrastructure and healthcare, but as a government and economics teacher for nearly 20 years, education and economic development are at the top of her list.

She said education needs more Title 1 funding at the federal level and she also wants to raise the minimum wage to $12 to $15 an hour.

“I would use my platform to keep introducing the bill, trying to come up with a compromise, trying to work across party lines,” Watson said.

William ‘Cowboy’ Williams is another political newcomer.

Williams declined to do an interview for this story, but his campaign website said he worked for the US Postal Service for 28 years.

A Vietnam Veteran, himself, Williams’ campaign focuses on more resources and better benefits for veterans, as well as working with law enforcement to crack down on crime.

He also thinks marijuana should be legalized.

The winner of the June 9 Democratic primary will face off against incumbent Congressman Tom Rice in November, who’s hoping for a fifth term in office.

“We’ve made incredible strides and we still have a long way to go,” Rice said.

It’s safe to say the coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of these issues to forefront more than ever before with each candidate saying they have a plan to help the community get back on their feet.

“When our folks are sick, when they’re physically sick, our whole economy becomes sick,” Robert Williams said.

“I want to make sure that our small businesses are taken care of,” Watson said.

“I think a lot of the unrest in the country right now is because of a lack of opportunity for people,” Rice said. “I want everybody to feel like they’re treated fairly and that they have a chance.”

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