Rice Fishes for Voters While Fry Fishes for Money

By Paul Gable

It’s been one year since Congressman Tom Rice’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

That fateful January 13, 2021 vote marked the beginning of Rice’s rapid fall from grace with the Republican voters of the SC 7th Congressional District, who constitute a considerable majority of the total voters in the district.

The SC 7th Congressional District is one of the most pro-Trump Congressional districts in the nation. From a political standpoint, Rice could have done nothing worse to the constituents he represents than his betrayal of the president.

Shortly after Rice’s fatal vote, Rice’s political consultant, Walter Whetsell, the go to guy for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, told news media that a week is like a lifetime in politics and the voters would forget about the impeachment vote in a couple of weeks.

Whetsell’s statement only goes to prove how out of touch Whetsell is with the realities of current day  Republicanism in the 7th Congressional District.

Rice has chosen to run for reelection telling media representatives that the Republican Party must move on from Trump and that he (Rice) will run on his record of accomplishment for the nearly 10 years he has represented the 7th Congressional District.

But, Rice has no record of accomplishment in Washington. He went to Washington with two big goals – secure funding for Interstate 73 and bring “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” to the district. Despite working with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives for his first six years there, Rice was unable to secure any significant funding for I-73.

While Rice likes to point to the Dillon inland port as an example of his ability to create jobs, that project actually owes its existence considerably more to former state Sen. Hugh Leatherman than anything Rice produced.

I-73 will probably be at the core of Rice’s reelection effort. It was the Chamber and the cabal of would be ‘movers and shakers’ associated with it that first got Rice elected to Congress and has been at the center of his reelection efforts since. The thought was that Rice and lobbying efforts in Washington would secure funding for the road’s construction.

Whetsell is firmly attached to the I-73 project as the “poll(?)” he conducted last year on the project for the Chamber demonstrates. And Whetsell represents Chamber candidates such as Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, state Reps. Case Brittain and Tim McGinnis and will represent Mark Lazarus’ attempt to win back the county chairman position he lost in 2018, all with the idea that local tax dollars must be dedicated to I-73.

Then we have state Rep. Russell Fry hoping to step into Rice’s shoes. Fry is not a Whetsell candidate, after all Whetsell can only represent one candidate in the 7th Congressional District race. But, Fry’s consultant is clearly as out of touch with 7th Congressional District voters as Whetsell is.

Fry has been a Chamber favorite in past elections, as his campaign disclosures demonstrate, and he was happy to stand with Rice at the Chamber’s October 2021 press conference concerning funding for I-73, including considerable local funding.

In fact, it took Fry eight months to say anything about Rice’s vote to impeach the former president and only then did Fry start to condemn Rice’s vote after he decided to enter the 7th Congressional District race himself.

In past years, Fry has been very happy to take every opportunity to have photos taken of him and Rice together and to campaign with Rice in past elections.

Since announcing his candidacy in August, Fry’s efforts have been concentrated in raising funds for his campaign so that the voters of the 7th Congressional District get “a proven, conservative Congressman they can trust who enthusiastically embraces Trump’s America First agenda.” In today’s political environment, politicians think they only have to say it, they don’t really have to do it.

Fry is anything but a ‘proven conservative”. No true conservative can possibly support spending precious tax dollars, especially local ones, on building I-73 when money for local roads and infrastructure is so desperately needed. In fact, Fry has no real record of accomplishment he can point to.

The Fry campaign has gotten so desperate in its attempts to raise money it recently launched a new website “ImpeachTomRice.com”, which has nothing to do with impeaching Rice but everything to do with using ‘clickbait’ to attempt to raise money for Fry.

Clickbait is described as “a text or a thumbnail link designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view or listen to the linked piece of online content, being typically deceptive, sensationalized or otherwise misleading.” In this case, “ImpeachTomRice.com” only directs you to a fundraising page for Fry. Clearly deceptive. Clickbait is now being challenged as legal and may come under much closer scrutiny in the near future.

Why was Fry so quiet for eight months after Rice’s vote to impeach was cast?

There is a pattern here. Fry is partners with state Rep. Heather Crawford and county council member Cam Crawford in the political consulting firm Crescent Communications. Over two years ago, Cam Crawford was dismissed from a position at Coastal Carolina University for breaking the university’s policy on sexual harassment, according to the results of an investigation by the university.

Yet, not one word criticizing the actions of Cam Crawford, much less breaking publicly with the Crawfords, from our self-declared ‘proven conservative’, ‘family values’ Fry.

Now playing on a national stage, Fry and his consultant appear out of their depth because, if at some point the Fry campaign is considered to be a serious one, the Crawford issue is going to come up. Fry can ignore the Crawford issue on a local or even state level, but make no mistake, Fox, OAN, Breitbart and Trump’s new media outlet are going to ask questions about it.

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