By Paul Gable
When President Donald Trump ran for office in 2016, a major pledge of his candidacy was to “Drain the Swamp” of Washington, D.C., a phrase that attracted many voters.
Draining the swamp included key items like clamping down on the influence of lobbyists and ending the practice of politicians being the puppets of ‘big money donors.’ As was said at the time, big money controls politics, often at the expense of average citizens.
While Trump was able to partially drain some of the influence of the swamp, the idea that more draining must be done still rests in the minds of many voters, especially Republicans.
The special interests in Horry County, the lobbyists and big money donors, include the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Strand Business Alliance and the cabal associated with them.
One hears an almost constant din from the Chamber, the GSBA and their allies about the need for Interstate 73 and the federal, state and local tax dollars needed to build it. Could it be because members of the cabal stand to gain financially from construction of I-73?
Interstate 73 has been the subject of recent Facebook ads by the South Carolina Taxpayers Association asking the voters of South Carolina to call SC Senate President Thomas Alexander and request the General Assembly to address the maintenance and upgrading needed on all the roads throughout the state rather than a ‘special interest’ project like I-73.
Rice went to Congress nearly 10 years ago with the promise to get the money needed to build I-73. It hasn’t happened. The Chamber, to date, continues to support a Rice reelection even after Rice’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump made him extremely unpopular with the majority of voters in the 7th Congressional District.
SC Rep. Russell Fry took eight months, after the impeachment vote, before he made any public remarks about Rice’s vote to impeach President Trump. It was only after Fry announced his intention to challenge Rice in the upcoming Republican Primary that he began to criticize Rice and the Fry criticism of Rice to date has been lukewarm at best, rather like criticizing a family member.
Fry is as closely allied with the Chamber and the GSBA as Rice. One only has to go to the home page of the GSBA website, gsballiance.com, to see a video which includes Fry talking about what a great job the GSBA does in lobbying and the need for I-73.
The video includes GSBA Chairman Steve Chapman, talking about how the Chamber and the GSBA are ‘sister organizations.’ The Chamber helps fund the GSBA Political Action Committees, which have supported the candidacies of Rice and Fry in the past. Ten percent of the cost for businesses to be included on the Chamber website VisitMyrtleBeach.com goes directly to the GSBA PACs.
Clearly Rice and Fry are both tied closely to the Chamber and the cabal. One could say they are two peas in the same Chamber pod floating in the local political swamp. One could also say the Chamber and the cabal have two candidates in the race for the 7th Congressional District nomination in a bid to maintain their special interest influence with the local Congressman.
The Fry candidacy has tried to align itself closely with Trump messaging, since August 2020, hoping to gain an endorsement from President Trump for the 7th District nomination.
The local MAGA voters do not support Fry because of his close ties to special interests. They don’t support Rice because of his vote to impeach President Trump as well as his ties to special interests. Nevertheless, they are the two candidates of the cabal.
Another Republican candidate in the 7th Congressional District, Ken Richardson, is reportedly under consideration for the Trump endorsement. Last week, Richardson stated in a video his opinion about the 2020 presidential election results. Richardson challenged all the announced Republican candidates for the 7th District to do the same. To date, Rice has been silent and Fry waited until the last possible second to answer with a statement that did not answer the question but just was filled with his political spin.
The questions were simple. Do you believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and do you believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected president. Fry answered neither.
Were President Trump to endorse Fry as his candidate for the 7th Congressional District Republican nomination, instead of continuing his work to drain the swamp, Trump would be swimming in the middle of it. I don’t believe President Trump or his loyal MAGA supporters want that.
The Fry campaign appears to need the Trump endorsement in order to remain viable. The Richardson campaign will continue to primary voting regardless of who gets the endorsement.
There are rumblings that a Trump endorsement for a 7th Congressional District candidate may be coming soon. The Trump Team should be very careful about its choice. Even in this pro-Trump district, endorsement of the wrong candidate could help Tom Rice win the nomination and hurt a Trump candidacy in 2024.
But, if a Trump endorsement is made on draining the swamp and other Trump issues, Richardson should be the favorite.