By Paul Gable
One of the most important weeks of the year for political junkies in the area is upon us.
On Tuesday, they should get a reasonable idea of how long the Republican Party can hold off the nomination of Donald Trump for president with another round of ‘Super Tuesday’ primaries in five important states.
For locals, however, Wednesday is even more important as filing opens at noon for a number of local offices and all seats in the SC General Assembly.
And the dynamics involved in this year’s political races make them even more interesting for those who follow politics.
Five countywide statutory offices are up for election – Auditor, Clerk of Court, Coroner, Sheriff and Treasurer. Normally these races bring little excitement, but this year two will be open seats and two more are expected to be contested.
Clerk of Court Melanie Huggins Ward and Treasurer Roddy Dickinson have announced they are retiring leaving their seats up for grabs in the primaries and general election.
Two others, Auditor Lois Eargle and Sheriff Philip Thompson are reported to have opposition this year for the first time in a number of years. Only Coroner Robert Edge appears not to have any opposition as filing opens.
Horry County Council will have five seats, Districts 3,4,6,9 and 10 up for election, as well as a special election to fill the unexpired term of retired member James Frazier in District 7.
To make it more interesting, council member Jody Prince is retiring, leaving his District 10 seat open and council members Jimmy Washington in District 3 and Cam Crawford in District 6 will be running for election for the second time in two years as both were elected to office in special election in 2015.
We are hearing reports of possible contested elections in Districts 3 and 9 at this time with District 10 having a number of possible candidates for the open seat. The District 7 seat is expected to have contests in both party primaries as well as the general election.
The Horry County School Board will have the Chairman’s seat and Districts 4,5,8,9 and 11 up for election. As of this writing, we are hearing of several possible opponents for Chairman Joe DeFeo.
SC Senate Districts 28, 30, 32, 33 and 34, all or parts of which include Horry County polling precincts, are of local interest as well as SC House Districts 55, 56, 57, 58, 68, 103, 104, 105, 106 and 107.
Sen. Ray Cleary is retiring from District 34, leaving that seat open for contest and we are hearing Sen. Luke Rankin will have opposition in District 33.
Filing for these seats opens at noon March 16th and closes at noon March 30th. The party primaries will be held June 14, 2016 with primary runoffs, if needed, June 30, 2016. The general election for all seats will be held November 8, 2016.
One exception to the above is the special election for Horry County Council District 7, which will have party primaries on May 17, 2016 with runoff, if needed, May 31, 2016. The general election for District 7 will be held July 5, 2016.