Democrats in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District race talk abortion, term limits in forum

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD)- Two Democrats took center stage in a congressional forum Tuesday that saw little tension between the candidates vying for a seat in Washington.

The forum, hosted by Lowcountry Liberal Ladies, was a chance for voters in South Carolina’s First Congressional District to hear from Michael B. Moore and Mac Deford, just weeks before the primary.

The roughly 90-minute conversation centered largely around national issues with the candidates aligning on the need for stricter gun control laws, Medicare expansion, and environmental protection policies.

“Sea level rise is no question the most serious threat to our coastline,” Moore said, adding that climate change is an “existential issue” requiring both legislative solutions and cultural changes.

Both candidates also said they were running to help restore abortion rights, an issue at the forefront of congressional campaigns nationwide, including in South Carolina, where the law prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions.

Deford, whose grandmother died as the result of an unsafe abortion several decades ago, views codifying abortion access as a “winning issue” for Democrats in 2024 and said he would introduce legislation to do so on his first day in office.

“This is about bodily autonomy,” Deford said. “This is about upholding and protecting the right and dignity of the individual and of women.”

“There is no room in the doctor’s office for the federal government,” Moore said while also pledging to work to codify reproductive rights.

One contentious moment came in response to a question about whether the candidates supported expanding the U.S. Supreme Court, a proposal being pushed by some Democratic lawmakers.

Moore said he was not opposed to upping the number of justices on the court, while Deford argued it could open a “Pandora’s box” regarding future presidencies.

Deford also spoke in favor of implementing congressional term limits, citing between 18 and 20 years — or roughly 10 terms — as an ideal cap for House members.

“I think you have to balance the value of having experience in an organization, like Congress, with making sure that we’re getting new ideas, new energy, and new voices up there to represent the people,” he said. “I think that term limits would be a good way to facilitate that.”

Moore disagreed, warning that term limits could “upend” the current system wherein seniority allows lawmakers to “gain power and influence and the ability to impact” the legislative process.

“I just fundamentally believe that where you can, you need to give the decision to the American people about these kinds of issues,” he said.

“A long term limit is still going to allow you to build a career and experience and influence,” Deford rebutted.

But, the pair otherwise avoided confrontation with each other, instead taking a few opportunities to jab at Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, whom both are hoping to replace in November.

One mention of the incumbent congresswoman came in reference to a recent federal court ruling that found the 2024 elections could be held using a Republican-drawn map as the Supreme Court weighs whether it was racially gerrymandered.

Mace flipped the SC-01 seat after the GOP-dominated state legislature redrew the lines following the 2020 U.S. Census to make the seat safer for Republicans.

“They had to cheat to try and save this district for Nancy Mace,” Deford said in his opening statement, arguing that Mace is “more vulnerable now than ever.”

“We don’t draw the lines or set the rules – we just show up every day to work hard for the Lowcountry,” Mace’s campaign responded in a statement to News 2. “It’s the honor of my life and we are ready to serve again to help fix the Biden inflation problem, end the border crisis, and bring fiscal sanity back to Washington.”

Deford and Moore will square off in the Democratic primary on June 11 for a chance to meet the winner of the Republican primary in November’s general election.

Mace is facing a pair of primary challengers in ex-DHEC Director Catherine Templeton and veteran Bill Young.

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Author: Sophie Brams