Originally created 10/25/98

Hodges promotes lottery



AIKEN -- More than 40 of the Democratic faithful showed up Saturday to rally for their party's candidate for governor.

Democratic nominee Jim Hodges touted his plans for a lottery for education during his first official Aiken County campaign stop in about a year.

"How many of you are tired of being ranked No. 50 in so many categories?" he asked the crowd.

Mr. Hodges reiterated his promises to hire more teachers to reduce class size to 15 students per instructor and increase discipline in the classroom. His promise to hold a referendum on a state-sponsored lottery for education similar to Georgia drew cheers from some of the audience.

Every year, $80 million from South Carolina residents goes to fund education for Georgians through the lottery, he said, and that's not chump change.

"Don't you think it's time you had the right to vote on a lottery?" he asked the crowd.

Mr. Hodges last made a campaign stop in Aiken County in November. Aiken County is traditionally an area that votes Republican.

Mr. Hodges said he was pleased with the turnout Saturday at what was described as a "meet and greet" forum. He has visited many counties where 50 people showed up to greet him a year ago and more than 100 show up now, he said.

Aiken County is receptive because it is a border county that can see firsthand the improvements Georgia has made in its education system, which is funded by South Carolina dollars flowing across the river, Mr. Hodges said.

Mr. Hodges' speech did not address the video poker industry, which has heavily contributed funds to his campaign. He said later that education is the main issue of the campaign, and video poker is an issue the Beasley camp raised when no one listed their education ideas.

Mr. Hodges was accompanied by Bill Clyburn, the Democratic incumbent running against Republican Edna Daniels for state House District 82; State Sen. Tommy Moore, D-Clearwater; and Willar Hightower, District 8 county councilman.

Todd Bauer can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.