(Above picture L-R: Tom Rice, Heather Crawford, Seth McKinney, Brenda Bethune, Mark Lazarus, Cam Crawford and Russell Fry)
Ever since Tom Rice cast his vote to impeach President Donald Trump last January, political talk around Horry County has been about whether Rice could survive a challenge to reelection next year.
Almost immediately nine challengers announced they would challenge Rice in next year’s June Republican Primary for the nomination for the SC 7th Congressional District seat. Eight of the original nine remain to date.
Tomorrow night, another challenger, Russell Fry, long expected to throw his hat in the ring, will hold his campaign kickoff event.
Fry’s entry into the race is probably a signal that at least some of Rice’s past supporters no longer believe he is electable.
Both Rice and Fry have drawn from the same base of support in the county during past elections – the Chamber crowd and associated PACs (the special interest crowd), local business owners and the ‘old guard’ members of the HCGOP.
A number of the names listed as sponsors for Rice’s September 14, 2021 Campaign Kickoff event at the Dunes Club also show up as donors to past Fry campaigns, according to filings with the South Carolina Ethics Commission.
The close ties between past Rice and Fry campaigns are best demonstrated by two of Fry’s initial donors in his first special election for the SC House District 106 seat in 2015. One of those donors is none other than Wrenzie Rice, wife of Tom Rice. The other is Doug Wendel, the man probably most responsible for Rice first running for the new 7th Congressional District seat in 2012.
Both Rice and Fry have been strong supporters of Chamber’s number one goal the Interstate 73 project, although neither has been able to bring any significant funds, federal or state respectively, to the project. Both attempted to pressure Horry County Council to provide funding from local hospitality fee collections to completely fund construction of the road to the county line (approximately $500 million additional funding).
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