By Paul Gable
Rep. Tom Rice’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump remains at the forefront of many voters’ minds.
The issue surfaced again in Surfside Beach this week when a Tom Rice campaign sign was seen hanging from a tree with the word “traitor” written across it.
The sign caused discussions of the issue up to the city council level about whether it was legal for the sign to be in the yard. However, that is not the real issue.
Homeowners certainly have the right to express their feelings about political officeholders in their own yards.
Rice’s vote upset many of the Republicans in his district who have loyally voted for Rice in the past.
This reporter has personally seen several Rice campaign signs with a black “X” painted over them at different locations throughout the county.
The issue is Rice’s vote to impeach is still in the forefront of voters’ minds.
Walter Whetsell, the veteran political consultant who has run Rice’s congressional campaigns said, back in January, that thoughts of Rice’s vote would soon go away. Whetsell misread this issue because it is not going away.
Whenever Rice posts something to his Facebook page, the comments are approximately 80 percent negative towards him. When the commenters are analyzed, it appears that approximately half of the 20 percent who support Rice are Democrats.
Rice said several times that he voted his conscience back in January when he cast a vote to impeach Trump. He properly commented on the Surfside Beach sign that this is a free country and people have a right to express their opinion.
But, those opinions are hard against Rice now and it’s going to be very difficult for him to turn a majority of Republican primary voters around in the next year. It will be interesting to see the reception he receives, if he decides to run for his Congressional seat again, when he meets with voters in live campaign events.
It is also interesting that the same yard where the Rice sign was hung from a tree had a Russell Fry sign for the S. C. House.
Fry has been mentioned as a possible opponent to Rice in next year’s Republican primary for the nomination for the S.C. 7th Congressional District.
According to local media, Fry had no comment about the sign issue. To date, Fry has voiced no support for Trump on the impeachment issue nor support for Rice’s vote.
If he wants to be considered a serious candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress, Fry is going to have to get off the fence and take one side or the other of the impeachment issue. What he has done in the S. C. House of Representatives is not going to matter to voters.