Chris Hart, H73, Democratic

Monday, 4:30 p.m.

"I want to run because I want to serve," said Chris Hart. Nothing earth-shattering about that; about 50 percent of candidates say it.

Mr. Hart added some context. He was born to a working-class family, his father the first black bus00hart_2 driver for SCE&G, and "Mom does domestic work." They raised him with "strong values," then he went to Howard University, a school that "instills a strong sense of community." He brought that
sense back home with him.

He said he wants "to bring a sense of urgency" to the House of Representatives. "We don’t have time for partisan politics right now. We should be about helping people… We can’t afford incremental change."

“Every legislator should have to articulate a vision.”

Surprise: Rep. Joe E. Brown, the retired school administrator who has represented S.C. House District 73 for 20 years, seems to have viable Democratic opposition. Energetic young lawyer Hart calls the incumbent “a true Southern gentleman” who has “become complacent. He’s become ineffective.”

Some think that’s why former Speaker David Wilkins found him the one Democrat nonthreatening enough to be a committee chairman. Mr. Wilkins used to bring Rep. Brown along to annual meetings with our editorial board, along with his Republican committee chairs. He was the only Democrat, and the only black man who didn’t work for The State, in the room. In those meetings, Mr. Brown spoke only when spoken to, and even then did not say much.

Mr. Brown is a quiet man. We’ll see what he has to say in his interview May 22. He’ll have to go some to make the sort of impression his young challenger did.

Mr. Hart said South Carolina needs to get it together. "Right now, South Carolina’s standing still. We need a mission statement," particularly with regard to education. The state needs to be "committed to providing the highest-quality education at all levels," from early childhood to higher ed.

That’s one thing we can do that "will benefit every person in South Carolina;" it "will position us to compete regionally, nationally and globally."

We "can’t just talk about problems."

"I want to distinguish myself from my opponent," he said. "I want to be solution-oriented.

"It puzzles me why" his opponent, as a retired educator, "isn’t in the forefront of the debate on education."

Mr. Hart says he is running hard, walking the district six days a week ever since January. As for Mr. Brown, "People say this is the first time we have seen campaign signs for him in the district."