Blakely to seek District 19 seat now held by Fair

The political contest brewing in House District 19, currently represented by Republican state Rep. Mike Fair, could turn out to be the one to watch in next fall’s elections, according to officials of both major parties.

A member of the Greenville County School Board – James W. Blakely Jr. – plans to run for the Democratic nomination for the House seat, which Democrats and Republicans say they will target more than others.

“We’ll place a top priority on defeating Mike Fair,” said Billy Webster, chairman of the Greenville County Democratic Party. “We’ll work hard for James Blakely because he is a great candidate, and we’re glad he’s running.”

Webster said he thinks fair is vulnerable because he has taken such a hardline position on the abortion issue, “and Mike Fair has spent more time on affairs at USC than he has on representing District 19.”

Republican County Chairman Joey Hudson said the GOP would work equally hard for Fair.

“Mike (Fair) has been a good legislator even though he has been controversial on some issues,” Hudson said.

Fair said he does not think of himself as controversial, and District 19 constituents are “probably as well-represented as any district in the state because of my position on the USC board and other committees.”

Fair said controversy arises because he is not afraid to speak out on issues such as abortion, coed visitation and gay rights.

“I don’t think unmarrieds should sleep together at a state university,” Fair said, “and gays should be challenged because of the threat they are to the family and society.”

Fair, who said he plans to run again, has gained a reputation during his three terms as a leading anti-abortion legislator. Last year he ran into protests from students at the University of South Carolina when he attempted to change coed visitation policies.

Blakely, a 50-year-old businessman said his experience on the School Board would help him push for education excellence on the School Board would help him push for education excellence. He said he is aware of the need for more economic development and road and highway improvements.

“I’ve lived in the district all my life,” Blakely said, “and I think I have a lot to contribute.”

Fiar, an insurance representative, said he plans to announce plans to seek re-election within two weeks.

“I had heard that James Blakely was going to run,” said Fair, who attended USC and currently serves on the university’s board of trustees.

“About all I have to say is the seat belongs to the people. I know he’ll be talking about his record, but I won’t because I don’t know what it is,” Fair said.

Fair, who has filed numerous bills to restrict abortion and said he personally favors a ban on abortion, is a member of the …