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S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) – a top Tea Party leader and arguably the most influential fiscal conservative in state government  – says that Lowcountry residents should be given the chance to voice their opinions on a proposed casino resort in Hardeeville, S.C. He’s also offering to join S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley at a series of public forums in Beaufort and Jasper Counties that would hear testimony regarding the project.

Davis hasn’t taken a position on the proposal – which would create an estimated 5,000 jobs in Jasper County without relying on taxpayer-funded incentives.

Not surprisingly, the ideal has broad popular support among local Republicans and Democrats – and limited government advocates.

Asked by a constituent about the project at a recent precinct meeting, Davis said that he wasn’t necessarily sold on the merits of the proposal but added that “I think both I and my constituents would benefit from a series of public forums on the issue – forums that get us beyond the rhetoric and allow us to hear directly from people in other parts of the country who have experienced how this type of activity actually affects a community.”

Davis said he would be more than happy to accompany Haley to these forums.

In addition to these public meetings, Davis said that he believed Lowcountry residents should be given a chance to formally weigh in on the issue.

“I think residents of the affected area – and by that I mean both Beaufort County and Jasper County – should be allowed, via a referendum, to express their thoughts,” he said.

Obviously that’s consistent with Davis’ prior advocacy on behalf of home rule – the principle that local governments generally ought to be allowed to make decisions related to local issues.

“The governor has the right to unilaterally make this decision, but I hope she engages the community before making it,” Davis said.

We agree.

Davis has offered a pair of eminently sensible ideas that the governor’s office should embrace – especially after Haley flagrantly betrayed the Lowcountry’s economic interests via her “Savannah River Sellout” a few short months ago.