By Paul Gable
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson Thursday night officially kicked off his campaign to unseat Tom Rice from the S. C. 7th Congressional seat at Radd Dew’s BBQ in Aynor.
Richardson announced he was a candidate early in the year and has spoken to 63 groups throughout the district, by his count, before his official kickoff. But, Thursday night saw Richardson host approximately 350 people, including a number of elected officials, to his official kickoff event. The crowd extended from the auditorium of the former school, in which the restaurant is located, out into the hallway behind the auditorium when Richardson spoke.
The people who attended the Richardson event were virtually all from west of the Intracoastal Waterway in Horry County although there was a sprinkling of attendees who drove from towns in the other seven counties in the district.
Virtually all of the attendees voted for Donald Trump in 2020, there was plenty of Trump attire in the crowd. Virtually all voted for Tom Rice in 2020. After hearing Richardson’s speech, I believe everybody at last night’s event will vote for Richardson in 2022.
The east-west divide, bounded by the waterway, among voters in Horry County and the 7th Congressional District in general was readily apparent in the crowd.
Those along the coast, where the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is most influential, will support Rice in the upcoming primary. If it becomes apparent Rice is not regaining lost support among the voters, the Chamber crowd will probably opt for their number one Rice substitute Russell Fry.
The remainder of the district west of the waterway, where approximately 650,000 of the district’s approximately 750,000 citizens reside, is ripe for the taking by a candidate who speaks the people’s language.
Richardson asked two very interesting questions of the crowd. He asked for a show of hands of people who want their locally collected tax dollars to be spent on local roads and infrastructure. Virtually every hand in the crowd was raised.
To see the video of Richardson’s speech including questions and voter response to I-73 CLICK HERE.
Look at the crowd’s response to each question below:
Do you support spending local tax dollars on local Infrastructure? (Response below)
Next, Richardson asked for a show of hands among the crowd of all those who wanted Interstate 73. (Response below) One hand was raised and Richardson noted that was the second hand that was raised among all the attendees in the 63 groups to which he has spoken to date.
The Myrtle Beach Chamber, Congressman Rice, state Rep. Fry, Gov. Henry McMaster, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune and a few members of local government councils would have you believe their propaganda that I-73 is the greatest thing since sliced bread and believe results of phony polls that try to convince regular citizens support the project. Most of those mentioned will be attending a press conference about I-73 to be held at the Chamber offices Monday.
There was visual proof among the crowd that the recent alleged poll results announced by the Chamber run somewhere between fatally flawed and totally false. If 82% of poll respondents actually did support I-73, as the Chamber announced recently, more than one hand in a crowd of several hundred would have been raised in response to Richardson’s question.
The I-73 project is considered a boondoggle project for the Chamber and its cronies by average voters. As Richardson noted, to date it has no money for construction (a cost estimated between $2.5-$3.5 billion) from the state or federal governments. And local residents want locally collected tax and fee revenue to be spent on local infrastructure needs not a new interstate road.
The Chamber wants I-73 built for selfish reasons and is supported by the likes of Rice, Fry, McMaster, Bethune and some local government council members, most of whom are running for reelection or election to a new position and want Chamber money and support of their candidacies.
It’s clear the I-73 project has no traction among average voters who far outnumber those with Chamber ties and who will decide the primary winner among the 7th Congressional District Republican candidates.
It was a good night for Richardson. He received a number of rounds of applause during his short speech and a standing ovation when he was finished. A more important observation is this event demonstrated the power of Richardson’s “One Vote at a Time” theme. Rather than relying on large sums of money to attract voters with television ads, mailers and social media, it was old time politics of pressing the flesh and asking for support from voters personally, face to face, one voter at a time.
Maybe more importantly, one politico at the event said there were more people at Richardson’s event last night than the total number of people who have attended Rice and Fry events combined, to date.