By Stan Welch
The Journal has learned that Easley businessman Hamp Johnson will file to run for the District 10 seat in the S.C. House of Representatives, a seat he has sought once before.
Johnson says the closeness of his runoff with current State Rep. Joshua Putnam in the runoff to fill former Rep. Dan Cooper’s seat, as well as the redistricting as a result of the 2010 census, helped him make the decision to run again. Once the field of five had been reduced to two for the runoff, Johnson, a political newcomer, closed to within 78 votes by the time of the runoff.
“I think that the ground we made up during the time between the primary and the runoff showed that the people wanted a choice. If we hadn’t seen such progress, I doubt I would have run again. And with parts of Greenville and Pickens counties now included in the District, the whole dynamic has changed.”
Johnson says his first foray into politics was eye opening. “I enjoyed it and I was convinced that I have something to offer. The Republican Party has a real opportunity to provide political leadership at every level of government, and to squander that would be a shame.”
Johnson says that his number one priority is to bring economic development in the industrial and manufacturing realms to the District. “Retail is beginning to come back, and that is good. But we need to attract industry and manufacturing. We have the land, we have the work force and we have the secondary level of education needed to provide a quality of life as well. We need to make it plain to everyone out there that District 10 is open for business.”
“I know that some people oppose incentive packages for industry, and I agree that a reduction or abolition of any corporate tax rate for South Carolina would be preferable. But there is no movement on that issue in the General Assembly right now. We can’t just decline to compete for industry until we like the rules of the game. We have to play the hand we are dealt, until we can shuffle the cards.”
Johnson, who attended Senator Kevin Bryant’s announcement reception Monday night, (See related story elsewhere in this issue) agrees wholeheartedly that fraud and waste have to be dealt with. “As the Senator said, last year alone, between fraudulent claims and claims by people who were fired from jobs, we wasted almost $140 million. Over the last three years, that figure reached $356 million. That was the fourth highest in the nation. That has to stop. We simply cannot recover economically dragging that anchor along.”
Even more significant said Johnson was the Medicaid fraud in the state in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. “Again we ranked fourth in the nation in Medicaid fraud. In that year alone, we experienced $406 million in fraud. The rate for improper payment of benefits rose from five per cent to seventeen per cent in one year. Add that to the unemployment fraud and more than three quarters of a billion dollars was wasted in this state over the last three years. That has to absolutely stop, and I would be proud to partner with Senator Bryant in sponsoring legislation in the House to coincide with his in the Senate.”
By Stan Welch