The race to succeed retiring Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (search) is producing a heated contest in South Carolina (search).

"My opponent, Jim DeMint (search), has a big idea," states an ad by Inez Tenenbaum (search), the current state superintendent of education. "A new 23 percent federal sales tax on just about everything we buy."

"My opponent claims I want to raise your taxes," shoots back a counter-ad by DeMint. "That's not true. I want to cut your taxes and get rid of the IRS."

Congressman DeMint, a Republican, is having to ward off attacks on his support for a national sales tax by Tenenbaum, his Democratic opponent.

"Tenenbaum was able to level the charge with great credibility that DeMint, despite his fiscally conservative attitude, is really proposing a tax increase," said Blease Graham, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina (search).

Tenenbaum's aggressive campaigning has been eroding DeMint's lead. In fact, some recent polls suggest the race is now a statistical dead heat — promising a November nail-biter for both camps.

Click on the video box near the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Jonathan Serrie.