Hopefuls Davis, Fletcher 'stick to issues' on S.C. Senate District 46 campaign trail

After a gloves-off primary battle in which he defeated the Republican incumbent, Tom Davis said his general election race against Democrat Kent Fletcher for the S.C. Senate District 46 seat has been ... pleasant.

"What I've particularly liked about running in this election against Kent is that we've been able to stick to the issues," said Davis, a Beaufort resident and Gov. Mark Sanford's former chief of staff. "I think there's a pretty clear delineation between where I stand on the issues and where Kent stands on the issues, and that's really what matters."

The race is in direct contrast to the June primary, during which incumbent Catherine Ceips' camp accused Davis of hiring an illegal worker to paint his house, and a newspaper published by Ceips' political consultant seemed to exist only to crow about Ceips' accomplishments. In turn, Davis accused Ceips of voting to give workers compensation benefits to illegal immigrants and working for Columbia-based special interest groups he claimed bankrolled her campaign.

Fletcher, a Bluffton resident, said he wasn't interested in mudslinging.

"This campaign has to be about the issues," he said. "We're both family men with our own accomplishments and different visions for the future."

Republicans have held the District 46 seat since 1993.

Davis said he's worked hard to appear before a "cross-section" of Beaufort County voters and hopes to have won the support of those who backed Ceips in the primary.

"You never count on any voters, but I think I've been able to state all of the things that I stand for," he said.

Davis, 48, is a real estate and business attorney with the Harvey & Battey firm in Beaufort. Fletcher, 33, is a former Marine Corps lieutenant and works in enrollment at the University of Phoenix campus in Savannah.

Senate District 46 covers Beaufort, Port Royal, Lady's Island, parts of Burton, parts of St. Helena Island, Dataw Island, Hunting Island, Harbor Island, Fripp Island and all of southern Beaufort County.

Fletcher said voters have been receptive to his message of change.

"This entire community, the people of Beaufort County are ready for something positive, ready for a new opportunity," he said. "We are in a position to be able to bring this seat back to the people of Beaufort County."

Davis also is confident his message has resonated with voters.

"We've got to continue to get our message out," Davis said. "In the beginning of the race, you work to define yourself as a candidate and talk about the things that are important to you, like protecting the environment and improving public schools."