Tag: tom rice

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, Fry and Crawford’s Interstate 73 on Life Support

Since the City of Myrtle Beach killed a funding source for Interstate 73 with the hospitality fee lawsuit against Horry County, the cabal that stands to benefit from construction of the road has been attempting to keep the project alive.
In the last two years of his tenure as county chairman, Mark Lazarus led council to remove the sunset provision in the county’s hospitality fee ordinance. Then, Lazarus convinced council to approve a financial participation agreement with the S. C. Department of Transportation to provide dedicated funding for the interstate project.
Lazarus’ entire scheme to provide county funding for construction of I-73 blew up with the hospitality fee lawsuit and recent settlement.
Congressman Tom Rice, and state Reps. Heather Crawford and Russell Fry and former Rep. Alan Clemmons didn’t even get as far as Lazarus in securing funding for construction of Interstate 73 despite constantly proclaiming the project a major priority.
The most successful representative in obtaining funds for I-73 was former SC 1st Congressional District Rep. Henry Brown in the days when Horry County was part of that district. During his 10 years in Washington, Brown managed to secure approximately $83 million total for the road. Brown served in Congress from Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2011.
According to sources familiar with the project, SCDOT is currently spending the last of the Brown secured funding to purchase rights of way in the Mullins area.
Rice has demonstrated no ability to secure federal funding to move the I-73 project forward. Neither have Fry, Crawford and previously Clemmons at the state level.
Grand Strand Daily has learned that a recent private meeting was held after Gov. Henry McMaster made an address to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The meeting included McMaster, Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley and Horry County Council member Dennis DiSabato. The meeting reportedly discussed providing some state funding, with local matching funds, to keep the project alive.
It is interesting that McMaster chose to meet with Bethune and Hatley, the two mayors who played the largest part in eliminating I-73 funding from hospitality fee revenue, as well as DiSabato who will struggle to get seven votes among council members for the proposal. One wonders, where was Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught when this meeting occurred. Vaught was attached at the hip to Lazarus with attempting to provide dedicated annual funding for I-73 from hospitality fee revenue.
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Old Guard Out at HCGOP

A new day dawned Saturday for the Horry County Republican Party when the ‘Old Guard’, ‘establishment’ or whatever you want to call it was swept out of power at the party’s biennial convention.
The three top offices in the HCGOP were won by relative newcomers to the local party – Roger Slagle-Chairman, Jeremy Halpin-Vice Chairman and Tracy Beanz Diaz-State Executive Committee member (pictured above).
The feeling that change was needed in the local party has been building for a while, but accelerated over the last month. Two years ago, there were approximately 206 voting delegates at the convention. This year that number increased to approximately 370.
The increased surge in participation can be at least partially linked to two events this week at which approximately 400 people attended each time. Both events were hosted by local Republican Patriot activist Chad Caton. Caton has battled with members of the ‘Old Guard’ for the past two years about how the local party was being run.
Wednesday night saw an event in Aynor to introduce Tracy Beanz Diaz to delegates and the general public. The highlight of the night for many of the attendees was a speech given by former President Donald Trump’s first National Security Adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, in support of his friend Diaz. Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones also spoke in support of Diaz’ candidacy and additionally worked hard at helping to organize the event.
Friday night saw an event in Myrtle Beach where Slagle, Halpin and Diaz all spoke to the crowd about their vision for a new Republican Party in Horry County. The main speaker, however, was Lin Wood, attorney for President Trump and a candidate for the South Carolina Republican Party Chairman post at next month’s state party convention. Wood also mingled with the crowd at the Aynor event talking and taking photos with the attendees.
Change is building in the state. Many people who have become active Republicans in the last five years are disgusted with the ‘good ole boy’ system that has run Republican Party politics in the state since the party became a majority among South Carolina voters.
State party Chairman Drew McKissick is running for reelection to his post. However, if Horry County and other recent county conventions are any indicator, Lin Wood could well oust McKissick from office.
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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.

New Moves in the Filing Controversy

Election Season Opens Early in Horry County

The next 14 months are going to provide interesting political times in Horry County. During that period, the cities will hold elections this coming fall and county and state primaries will be contested in June 2022.

Electioneering has already begun.

Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson is already making a strong bid to replace Tom Rice as the South Carolina District 7 representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Two people have been spreading the word around the county that they intend to challenge Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner in the June 2022 primary.

Mark Lazarus, who Gardner unseated in 2018 with what is probably the biggest upset in Horry County political history, reportedly is telling supporters he wants a rematch with Gardner in the 2022 Republican Primary.

Johnny Vaught, the current County Council District 8 council member, and Dennis DiSabato, the current county council member for District 3, have also been broadcasting they will be candidates for the Republican nomination for county chairman in the 2022 primary.

What is interesting about these announcements is Vaught was a major spokesman for Lazarus’ reelection. Whenever Lazarus needed a surrogate to speak for him at a meeting or other campaign event in 2018, Vaught was the chosen spokesman.

If Vaught and Lazarus both contest the chairman primary, it will bring up another interesting dynamic. Both have used Crescent Communications, the political consulting firm of state Reps. Russell Fry and Heather Crawford and county council member Cam Crawford in past campaigns.

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.