Tag: SC 7th Congressional District

Wife’s Email Complicates Rice Reelection Chances

An email authored by Wrenzie Rice, wife of Congressman Tom Rice, further complicates Rice’s already tenuous chances for reelection next year.
Responding to an email from a supporter, but reportedly not a constituent, of Rice’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump. Rice’s email was dated February 8, 2021, nearly one month after her husband’s vote to impeach and after her husband tried to explain away his vote to impeach the president as a vote of conscience and after Tom Rice was formally censured by the SCGOP.
According to a number of sources who received forwarded copies, the email was shared among Republican voters in South Carolina for several months eventually making its way to South Carolina GOP officials.
Nationfile.com broke a story about the email last week including a verbatim transcript of the contents with the name of the recipient redacted. According to that story, Nationalfile.com received a copy of the email from “a senior South Carolina Republican Party official.”
Wrenzie Rice used two references in the email that will not sit well with Republican voters in her husband’s South Carolina 7th Congressional District.
“Tom has not wavered one bit on his vote (to impeach), but the Trump cult runs strong,” Wrenzie Rice wrote. “Sometimes I wonder if this is how Hitler came to power…”
The use of the words “Trump cult” was ill advised. Using the definition of cult as a group that is defined by common interest in a particular personality, it brings to mind Jim Jones and his kool aid drinkers or Charles Manson and his group.
Is cult really the proper term to use to describe a substantial group of voters in the 7th District who have cast ballots for her husband in the past?
Tom Rice said he voted to impeach Trump because “what he (Trump) did in my mind is what dictators do.” Wrenzie Rice added the name “Hitler”, one of the most ruthless and despised dictators in modern history who, among other atrocities, initiated the Holocaust of Europe’s Jewish people and others Hitler described as sub-human.
Any reference linking Trump and Hitler does not play well with the legion of steadfast Trump supporters in the 7th Congressional District and nationwide.

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Dynamics Emerging in the 7th Congressional District Republican Race

Interesting dynamics are beginning to emerge in the race for next year’s Republican nomination in S. C. 7th Congressional District.
Second quarter campaign finance data shows incumbent Tom Rice leading in money raising with Graham Allen, Ken Richardson and Barbara Arthur rounding out the top four in that order.
Drilling down on those campaign donations, most of Rice’s contributions come from PAC donations routinely given to sitting Congressmen. While Allen shows $501,244 raised, an analysis could find only three donations totaling $1,000 from people living within the 7th Congressional District.
By contrast, Richardson’s $179,797 is virtually all from 7th Congressional District residents as is Arthur’s $52,666.
Richardson already has experience as a candidate having won a county wide race for the School Board chairmanship in Horry County which contains approximately 50% of the voters in the 7th Congressional District. Arthur has no previous political experience.
Rice is the incumbent but he hurt his reelection chances significantly by voting to impeach President Donald Trump in a January 2021 House vote.
Money is sometimes called ‘the mother’s milk of politics.’ However, if the amount of money raised and spent was the sole determinant in winning an election, Jaime Harrison would be a U. S. Senator today instead of Lindsey Graham.
Allen is the most interesting story as he is attempting to win the race as a carpetbagger. The term carpetbagger is defined as “a political candidate who seeks election in an area where they have no local connections.”
While Allen may know a few people in the district, he has no real connections to the area and most voters I have talked to don’t know much about him.
Allen has gained some notoriety as a regular host on Glenn Beck’s Blaze television and his ‘Rant Nation’ podcasts. Having recently moved to Anderson, SC, Allen meets the federal requirements to run for the 7th Congressional District seat.
Allen appears to be a member of a small group of candidates who seem to think their military service and a little notoriety on social media defines them as super-patriots while voicing positions for Second Amendment gun rights and against a ‘swamp’ full of perceived ‘Communists and Marxists’ in Washington are keys to winning Republican nominations for federal office.

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Where are State Legislators in District 7 Congressional Race?

One of the most interesting aspects of the challengers to Tom Rice for next year’s Republican primary nomination for the S.C. 7th Congressional District is the lack of state legislators currently in the contest.
Statehouse legislative experience is often used as a stepping stone to the U. S. Congress. For example, John Jenrette, Mark Sanford, Lindsey Graham and Henry Brown all served in the S. C. General Assembly before winning a seat in Congress. Rice served two years as county council chairman before winning election to the newly created 7th Congressional District in 2012.
Rep. William Bailey formed a committee in January 2021 to explore whether he should challenge incumbent Tom Rice in next year’s primary. Last week, Bailey announced he would seek reelection to his S. C. House seat rather than run in the primary for the U. S. House of Representatives, preferring to concentrate on his efforts to improve and widen SC 9 all the way to Interstate 81 to provide access from three interstates to the Grand Strand.
According to several sources in Columbia, three other members of the local legislative delegation are considering entering the race. They are Rep. Russell Fry, Rep. Heather Crawford and Sen. Stephen Goldfinch.
Rice’s vote to impeach then President Donald Trump on January 13, 2021 has encouraged at least 10 challengers to his reelection at this writing. All 10, in one form or another, have criticized Rice’s vote to impeach Trump. To date, not Fry, nor Crawford nor Goldfinch has criticized Rice’s vote to impeach.
A campaign for federal office brings a level of scrutiny much deeper into a candidate’s background, voting record and associations than is normal for local elections. What baggage might be holding back any of these three from entering the primary against Rice?
All three aligned themselves in the past with what can be called the good ole boy Republicans who are now out of favor in Horry County.
The new leadership at the Horry County GOP is currently conducting a forensic audit into the past four years of that organization’s finances, the period before the new leadership took office. In addition, a recent media report disclosed the HCGOP is under scrutiny by the S. C. Ethics Commission for failure to file quarterly disclosure reports since 2017.
The new president of the HCGOP was quoted in the story as saying right now the HCGOP couldn’t file disclosure reports because of a lack of good financial data for that period.

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One Year Until Republican Congressional Primary, Is Rice Toast?

One year from today, June 14, 2022, voters will go to the polls for primary elections to nominate candidates for the November 2022 general election.
The most closely watched race will be the Republican primary for the S. C. 7th Congressional District. Will five term incumbent Tom Rice survive his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump and win the Republican nomination?
Incumbents have a few advantages over challengers especially name recognition and the ability to raise money from the many PACs around the country looking to gain access to legislators.
However, since Rice’s vote to impeach former President Trump, the 7th Congressional District is being treated like an open seat by challengers. Ten challengers to Rice had filed with the Federal Election Commission as of the March 31, 2021 required filing date. When the June 30, 2021 filing is complete, we may see a couple more challengers have emerged.
The same March 31st filings show Rice raised $404,000 for his campaign chest, nearly all from out of state PACs. Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson raised $154,000 generally from donors within the 7th District. The other nine Republican candidates raised just over $3,000 total among them.
It is estimated a campaign chest of at least $2 million will be needed to fund a serious challenge to Rice. Only Richardson, among the challengers, is on track to raise that kind of money to this point.
But it takes more than money to win elections. A look back at a little history of Horry County and the former S.C. 6th Congressional District, most of which now comprises the 7th Congressional District, may help to put the 2022 primary in perspective.
Former Congressman John Jenrette, the only other person than Rice elected to Congress from Horry County, said when he beat 17 term Congressman John McMillan in the Democratic primary of 1972 (back in the days when nearly everyone in South Carolina was a Democrat), “McMillan had the money but I had the people.”
McMillan was an old style, Jim Crow Southern Democrat who failed to connect with the many new voters brought into the electorate since 1964. Jenrette served four terms in the S. C. House as an at-large representative from Horry County. Jenrette had already connected with those new voters and many of the older ones who also voted for McMillan.

Rice’s Failure to Deliver for his 7th Congressional District Constituents

It has been six months since the day Tom Rice’s political career changed.
The January 6th disturbance at the U. S. Capitol building led to Rice’s ‘vote of conscience’ one week later to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Rice’s vote to impeach changed the political landscape in his South Carolina 7th Congressional District as Rice was immediately attacked by a large majority of his former supporters for casting that vote.
At the time, Rice’s campaign consultant Walter Whetsell downplayed the outcry against his five-time candidate as something that would fade in a couple of weeks. However, rather than fading in the six-month interim, the opposition to Rice has only grown.
At least 10 Republican challengers to Rice’s nomination for a sixth term as the Congressman from the South Carolina Seventh have already registered with the Federal Election Commission. In the eyes of most Republicans, the 7th Congressional District is being treated as an open seat rather than one with a five term Congressman in place with all the advantages of incumbency.
But, it is not only Rice’s vote to impeach Trump that will cause him trouble in the June 2022 Republican Primary, should he choose to run. He has no record of producing results for the citizens of the 7th Congressional District despite being in his fifth term as their representative.
When Rice first campaigned for the new 7th Congressional District seat in 2012, his two main issues were “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” and “Interstate 73”. He has failed on both issues.
Horry County, Rice’s home county and the location of a full 50% of the Republican voters throughout the district, has experienced no job growth attributable to Rice’s efforts in his four plus terms in Congress.
This comes as no real surprise. In his two years as chairman of Horry County Council before being elected to the 7th Congressional District seat, Rice promoted jobs as a major issue. Working with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, Rice’s two prime efforts for creating new jobs during those two years were “Avcraft” and “Project Blue”.
Avcraft was an aircraft completion and services company that had relocated to Horry County in 2004 with promises of 400-600 new jobs. After six years of failure to produce any new jobs in Horry County, Avcraft received one more stimulus package from the county with Rice leading and promoting the effort. Not only were no new jobs forthcoming, Avcraft finally bowed to the inevitable and filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
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Rice’s Vote to Impeach Trump Continues to be an Issue with Voters

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.

Meet Ken Richardson the Number One Candidate to Beat Tom Rice

Ken Richardson is a lifelong resident of Horry County. He has been married to wife Donna for 43 years. The couple has two children, Christi Richardson Hucks who has been married to Robert Hucks for 15 years and Christopher Jason Richardson, age 36. Christi and Robert Hucks have two children, Riles age 12 and Winston age 10. All three generations are products of Horry County Schools.

The Richardson and Hucks families have long histories of being involved in public affairs as elected officials, appointed officials and judgeships in Horry County.

Richardson attended Conway High School and was a member of the first integrated football team at the school. He was the smallest player on the team and the coach credited his determination with helping him win a spot.

After graduating from Conway High School, Richardson attended Horry Georgetown Technical College.

While studying at Horry Georgetown Technical College, Richardson was hired as a salesman at Fowler Motors beginning a 40 year career at the car dealership. Beginning the month he was hired, Richardson ran a string of 57 straight months as Salesman of the Month for the dealership before being moved to management. In 1998, Richardson purchased the dealership from Mr. Fowler and was the owner of the only Mercedes, BMW and Cadillac dealership under one roof in the country. He sold the dealership in 2009 to semi-retire and to concentrate more time on his passion – education.

The Trump Factor in 2022 7th Congressional District Primary

Former President Donald Trump left no doubt over the weekend that he will be a factor in the 2022 off year elections for the U.S House of Representatives and Senate.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Sunday, the former president called out the names of all 10 Republican representatives, including the 7th Congressional District’s Tom Rice, and seven Republican senators who voted for his impeachment. “Get rid of them all,” Trump said.

Trump indicated he will oppose all 17 Republicans who voted against him when they come up for reelection and back candidates who subscribe to his “Make America Great Again” agenda.
Incumbency normally works to a candidate’s advantage. However, in the case of Rice and the others who voted to impeach Trump, it will lose its significance.

Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson already has a campaign in place to challenge Rice in the 2022 Republican Primary. He has opened a campaign account, filed with the Federal Election Commission hired campaign staff and is making the rounds of Republican events in the district to introduce his candidacy.

Richardson stated publicly that he would not have voted to impeach the former president when he announced his campaign opening. Political insiders who know Richardson know he was one of the first in the area to support Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and Richardson’s wife traveled the southeast supporting and raising money for Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. Both are firmly in step with the MAGA movement.

Two state legislators, Rep. Russell Fry and Rep. William Bailey have indicated they are studying whether to get into the primary race. Neither has taken a position on Rice’s vote on the impeachment question.

Rice Continues Stuck in Quagmire of Trump Impeachment Vote

Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC7) is sinking deeper into a quagmire of his own making as he attempts to explain his way around his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Since voting to impeach Trump a month ago, Rice has been subjected to a continuous stream of criticism from voters in his Congressional District and suffered censure from the state Republican Executive Committee.

Even supposed allies of Rice such as state representatives Russell Fry and Heather Ammons Crawford, who never missed a photo opportunity with Rice in the past, have failed to offer support of Rice when given the opportunity by local media. Likewise, neither has come out with condemnation of Rice’s vote putting them at odds with most other members of the Republican Party as they attempt to hold firmly to the position of ‘fence sitters.’

Fry is reportedly considering a challenge to Rice in the 2022 Republican Primary for the nomination for the 7th Congressional seat. If he decides to challenge Rice, Fry is going to have to get off that fence.

In the month since his impeachment vote, Rice and his advisers have tried to tamp down criticism of his action. But they don’t seem they understand the local sentiment.

In his statements to media and votes in Congress Rice has flip-flopped on the impeachment question. Rice told local and national media that, in the days following the January 6th Capitol insurrection, the more he learned, the more upset he became with Trump’s actions before and during the insurrection.

However, on January 11th Rice issued a statement to local media outlets saying he did not support impeachment of Trump. On January 12th, Rice voted against two resolutions in the House, one calling for using the 25th Amendment to temporarily suspend Trump from the presidency and the other a procedural resolution to bring the resolution of impeachment to the House floor.

Less than 24 hours after voting against bringing the impeachment resolution to the House for a vote, Rice voted for the resolution to impeach the president. What really caused this 180 degree turn in Rice’s actions?

Richardson Gaining National Attention as Potential Challenger to Rice

Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson hit the national news spotlight recently when the New York Times ran an article mentioning Richardson as a potential challenger to Rice in the upcoming June 2022 Republican Primary for Rice’s SC 7th Congressional District seat.

Richardson said he was surprised at getting a call from the New York Times reporter. “When my phone rang and it was the New York Times on the other end wanting to talk about me challenging Rice for Congress I was very surprised,” said Richardson.

Richardson said his entire focus right now is on getting Horry County students safely back into the classroom five days a week.

Toward that goal, the school district is in the final stages of surrounding each student desk with Plexiglas shields. Richardson said meetings are ongoing with administrators, cafeteria staff and maintenance staff on what additional steps will be required to provide a safe learning environment when the district shifts to full-time, in-school classes.

“My number one priority right now is getting the kids back in school full-time,” Richardson said.

However, making a future run at Rice’s seat is not out of the question for Richardson.

“When the 7th district was first created in 2012, I considered running for the seat then,” Richardson said. “But, I was involved in negotiations to sell my car dealership (Fowler Motors) at the time and I didn’t feel I could give the attention necessary to run a Congressional race at the same time.”

Richardson said he ran for the position of school board chairman because there were things he wanted to accomplish for the students of Horry County, but the thought of running for Congress has never completely left his mind.

In June 2019, Richardson released a statement that Rice needed to do more to help local schools impacted by hurricanes.