Curtis Bostic and John Kuhn
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Both say they have the political experience to be Beaufort County's next congressman.
But they both say they've got enough of an outsider attitude to break through the bureaucracy clogging Washington and to tackle federal overspending.
On Monday, former state Sen. John Kuhn, whose law practice includes a Bluffton office, and former Charleston County Council member Curtis Bostic, who served on that council with now Sen. Tim Scott, took to the stage to persuade about 60 voters that they should represent the 1st District in Congress.
The two, part of a crowd of 16 vying to be the Republican nominee in the March 19 primary, showcased two main differences.
Bostic, a lawyer who runs a nonprofit that operates in six countries as well as two orphanages in Southeast Asia, said adults who are illegal immigrants must go to "the back of the line" and wait their turn to become citizens. But when it comes to children who are born stateside and have known no other country, he is uncertain what is the correct approach.
Kuhn, who grew up on a California farm on the Mexican border, said no special consideration should be given to children of illegal residents born in America.
Kuhn said Mexican women routinely cross the border illegally, intent on having babies in American hospitals.
"And that baby immediately jumped ahead of everyone else in line to get citizenship," Kuhn said. "And that has got to stop. ... Everybody should go through the exact same process."
The two also disagreed on the federal government's role in regulating environmental issues.
Kuhn, who used to routinely visit China for business and once had to cut a trip short because the smog was making him and his wife ill, said pollution is the one area government should play a lead role in regulating.
"It is the one area where we need good, solid regulation," Kuhn said. "Otherwise, we'll end up like China."
Bostic took a harder line on limiting government involvement in environmental programs, touting his opposition during his time on Charleston County Council to a program that allowed the county to use eminent domain to take ownership of environmentally sensitive land for public use.
"I like the idea of protecting our environment. But I didn't like the model it was built on," said Bostic, who helped create a county program that allowed environmental groups to donate money to be used for the purchase of land from willing sellers. "We need to protect our environment, but there are ways that do not impede our growth."
Bostic stumbled on a question on whether he would support the development of a port in Jasper County, thinking the question was about a Jasper County courthouse instead of a port.
After saying he would not support federal involvement in such a matter, state Rep. Shannon Erickson, organizer of the forum, explained the question was about the proposed port project that proponents say would serve as a massive economic engine for the Lowcountry.
"Oh, a state port. I thought you said a state court," said Bostic, with a laugh and garnering chuckles from the audience.
Kuhn said he was in favor of a Jasper port.
"There's no reason we can't have a Jasper port if it's done right," he said.