By Paul Gable
In two weeks candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle for state and local offices will begin.
Candidate filing begins at noon March 16, 2020. The local primary elections will be held June 9, 2020 with the winners of the primaries going on to the November 3, 2020 general election.
All seats in the General Assembly will be up for election, both House and Senate. Locally, five county council seats and five school board seats will be contested as well as the county wide offices of Sheriff, Treasurer, Auditor, Clerk of Courts, Probate Judge, Solicitor and Coroner.
In a one party county and state such as Horry and South Carolina, the primaries are where the real action will take place.
An anti-incumbent trend against elected officials in legislative positions was prevalent in the 2018 elections. Three out of four incumbents for either county council or the S.C. House of Representatives who were challenged by new candidates lost their seats. The fourth managed to squeak back into office by a margin of 31 votes.
There is no reason to expect that trend won’t continue in this election cycle.
Flooding resulting from what is seen by the voters as uncontrolled development in the county is a top issue with voters. One only has to see the “Tired of Flooding, Vote Them Out” signs along county roads to understand incumbents are in trouble with voters.
The lack of maintenance and enhancement of existing infrastructure while new projects such as Interstate 73 are pushed by legislators is seen as another significant problem for incumbents.
And the eternal question in the county of who or what influences incumbents when they cast their votes will be up for interpretation by voters. Do the incumbents vote for issues pushed by developers, the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests who fund their campaigns or do they consider what is in the best interests of the citizens they represent when voting?
The answer to that question may decide a number of races in June depending on how many incumbents are challenged.
Three incumbents, Sen. Luke Rankin, Rep. Alan Clemmons and county council member Cam Crawford, have already had opponents announce intentions to challenge them.
Based on their voting records, public stances on critical issues and close proximity to special interests, it would not be surprising to see representatives Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry as well as council members Gary Loftus and Dennis DiSabato draw competition.
Filing for office closes at noon March 30, 2020. By then we will know how active the primary season will be.