Rep. Jim Clyburn has represented South Carolina's 6th Congressional District since 1993, serving part of that time (2007-2011) as House Majority Whip. He still wields considerable power in the Democratic Party, and this year he's facing two candidates in his bid for re-election.
As the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Clyburn sometimes works in the background to get bills passed without attaching his name as a co-sponsor. But he's not shy about taking credit for the proposed deepening of the Charleston harbor.
Soon after President Barack Obama's election in 2008, Clyburn says he was having lunch with Obama and brought up the fact that South Carolina's Democratic primary had helped launch Obama's campaign in its early stages. "I said to the president, 'Mr. President ... if you would allow your administration to put forward the language necessary for us to get the Corps of Engineers to deepen the Charleston harbor, you would've done something better than coming back to the state as a way to say thank you,'" Clyburn says. "He looked down the table and said to Joe Biden, 'Joe, let's get this done.' That's how the harbor got deepened."
If re-elected, Clyburn says he would push to ensure that the harbor is deepened to 52 feet. His other major goal is to take a spending formula that he introduced to the rural development portion of the 2009 stimulus act and apply it to other sections of the federal budget. He calls the formula 10-20-30 and explains it this way: "That means that 10 percent of the money in this section should be spent in those communities where 20 percent or more of the population has been stuck beneath the poverty level for the last 30 years." He says the formula directed $1.7 billion of stimulus money to rural communities for infrastructure projects.
Clyburn also supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour, a measure that he says will pass if Democrats can hold the Senate and take over the House in November. On foreign policy, he says he supports President Obama's decisions on combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"I'm supporting the president in what he's doing, and I just hope he's got enough money to get enough bombs to bomb them into smithereens," Clyburn says.
Anthony Culler did not respond to a request for an interview. His website does not include a campaign platform, but he recently wrote on his campaign Facebook page, "Words evade me of being able to share with you my enjoyment of politics! The degree to which I will assist the people as their representative can only be matched by the ministry to which I was not called. This calling, along with being a father and husband, IS my appointed ministry."
A 25-year Air Force veteran who spent most of his career in aircraft maintenance, Kevin R. Umbaugh says he has an unusual libertarian perspective on war. "While I do believe in a smaller Air Force, I believe in a military that can respond," he says. In Congress, he says he would seek to ensure production of the long-delayed F-35 stealth fighter, but he would also stand in opposition to the more hawkish legislators calling for American boots on the ground to fight ISIS forces in the Middle East.
"I don't think that right now [ISIS] requires that Americans bleed in Iraq, and I would be vocal about that," Umbaugh says.
Another part of Umbaugh's platform is making South Carolina into an "economic free zone" where all federal taxes are eliminated. "It's basically South Carolina taking charge of its own future and not letting it be dictated by a senator from Nevada or from New York. Let us do it our own way," Umbaugh says. "This is prime real estate for manufacturing, and if we didn't have a corporate income tax here, if we didn't have to pay it at ... the world's highest, I think that would bring people here. It would re-shore jobs."
A great-grandson of Irish immigrants, Umbaugh says he would also push policy changes that make the immigration process easier. "The issue is not really immigration as much as it's controlling the border, all borders and all entry into our country," he says. "A lot of that is caught up in bureaucracy. Why is it so difficult to immigrate to this country?"
As a Congressman, Umbaugh says he would work to issue tax IDs and Social Security numbers to undocumented immigrants and put them on a path toward citizenship. "They'll move forward because they want to benefit from being here in the United States, and if they don't and they're engaged in criminal activity, then deport them," he says. "We do not need to be paying for them in our jails."