By Paul Gable
Candidate filing for state and local offices closed at noon Friday with many more challengers to incumbents than Horry County has been used to in recent years.
However, the Independent Republic, known for its nasty political fights as well as zany winners and losers, is getting one up on anything I have ever seen before.
Dick Withington announced months ago that he would be a Republican candidate for the new 7th Congressional District seat. He is continuing in that endeavor, but, in case he doesn’t win that primary, Withington has decided to try for a primary trifecta. He is also filing as a Republican candidate for SC House District 106 and SC Senate District 34.
Withington said he verified the legality of all three filings with Georgetown County Republican Party Chairman Jim Jerow. It is unclear why Withington did not check with Horry County Republican Party Chairman Johnnie Bellamy. After all, he lives in Horry County.
Withington likes to make references to military ancestors and he showed up at one of the 7th Congressional District candidate functions with a sword, but even the United States at its military peak never tried to win a three-front war. Give him an “A” for effort I guess.
Now back to the more traditional style candidate filings.
The Conway Court House incumbents, Sheriff Philip Thompson, Clerk of Court Melanie Huggins, Treasurer Roddy Dickinson, Auditor Lois Eargle and Coroner Robert Edge, all Republicans, will be unopposed for re-election.
Republican incumbent Alan Clemmons is also unopposed in House District 107 and incumbent Republican Sen. Luke Rankin is unopposed in Senate District 33. The remaining incumbents at the state level have challengers, while the open seats will have some interesting challenges.
The new House District 56 has two Republican candidates Michael Ryhal and Dennis DiSabato. House District 58 will see incumbent Republican Liston Barfield challenged in the primary by Fonzie Lewis with the winner facing Democratic challenger Cedric Spain in the fall.
House District 68, vacant since the resignation of Thad Viers, has three Republican candidates, Heather Ammons, Thomas Muse and Larry Richardson.
House District 104 will see incumbent Tracy Edge challenged in the Republican primary by Greg Duckworth and Gary Stephens. The winner will face Democrat Charles Randall in the general election.
House District 105 incumbent George Hearn announced two days ago he is not seeking re-election. Six Republicans jumped into the race for the open seat including former council chairman Liz Gilland, Kevin Hardee, Bert Von Herman, Mike Conteff, Mike Hewitt and Bill Weigand.
House District 106 Republican incumbent Nelson Hardwick will be challenged in the primary by Rod Smith and Withington.
Senate District 28 from which incumbent Democrat Dick Elliott is retiring has Republican Greg Hembree, the incumbent Horry County Solicitor, facing Democrat Butch Johnson in the fall election. Both will be unopposed in the primary.
Senate District 34 incumbent Ray Cleary will also be challenged by Withington.
County Council races shape up with competition for every incumbent. District Nine Republican incumbent Paul Prince has primary opponent Patrick Boulter.
Incumbent District Three Democrat Marion Foxworth will face the winner of a Republican primary contest between challengers Keith Van Winkle, Lex Gardner and Mary Henry.
District Four Republican incumbent Gary Loftus is being challenged in the primary by Chris Burroughs.
District Six Republican incumbent Bob Grabowski is being challenged by former county council member Marvin Heyd.
District Ten Republican incumbent Jody Prince will face Democratic challenger Ken Robinson in the fall.
There will be contested school board races with District Five Republican incumbent Paul Peterson facing two opponents in the June primary, Janice Morreale and Camille Noonan. District Nine Republican incumbent David Cox will face former District Nine member Democrat Ronald Bessant in the fall election.
District Eight Republican incumbent John Poston will be challenged by Democrat Keisha Kirkland in the general election. District Eleven incumbent Trent Hardee is not seeking re-election. Republicans Levon Martin and Jeffrey Lee Garland will square off in the June primary to see who succeeds him.
Republican incumbent Kay Loftus (District Four) is unopposed.
The open school board chairman seat has only current Republican District Three incumbent Joe DeFeo filed as a candidate.
Filing for the 7th Congressional District race closed with nine Republican candidates – Andre Bauer, Renee Culler, Katherine Jenerette, Jay Jordan, Jim Mader, Chad Prosser, Tom Rice, Randal Wallace and Withington.
Five Democrats have filed for the 7th Congressional District – Preston Brittain, Parnell Diggs, Harry Pavilack, Gloria Bromell Tinubu and Ted Vick.