By Paul Gable
Horry County Council District Two member Brent Schulz will have at least one more day at the polls in next week’s general election thanks to a write-in campaign organized by supporters in his district.
Schulz, a two-term incumbent, narrowly lost the Republican nomination for the District Two council seat in the June 2014 primary to Myrtle Beach businessman Bill Howard. Howard, who has lost twice in Myrtle Beach mayoralty contests and once for Myrtle Beach city council, won by a total of 19 votes.
The result stunned Schulz’ supporters, many of whom thought he was a shoe-in for a third term and were admittedly lax about voting in the primary.
After the primary election, a core group of Schulz supporters got together to see what they could do about keeping their council member in office.
“We found out a lot of Brent’s supporters didn’t vote in the primary for whatever reason,” said Paul Benick, a leader of the write-in effort. “We have nothing against Howard, but we need to keep Brent Schulz representing District Two.”
Benick noted Schulz took strong stands against the excesses of motorcycle rallies, the crime problems related to strip clubs and the noise nuisance of helicopter amusement rides, all important issues to the citizens of District Two.
“Brent has done a good job of representing us,” said Benick. “We need to keep someone with his experience and proven track record in office.”
Benick, a Myrtle Beach native who lives in the Arcadian Shores section of District Two, has organized a “grass roots” write-in campaign for Schulz. A core group of Schulz supporters decided after the primary shock to work throughout the district, urging voters to write-in Schulz’s name on the ballot for Horry County Council District Two.
Write-in campaigns are not simple because voters must be motivated to take the time to write-in the candidate’s name in the appropriate race. Straight party line voting will not get the job done.
However, write-in campaigns have worked before in South Carolina. Strom Thurmond won his initial term in the U.S. Senate with a write-in campaign after he was passed over by party bosses for the Democratic nomination in 1954.
Benick said many Schulz supporters will be going to the polls next week to vote for District Two resident and U.S. Rep. Tom Rice.
“The turnout in the primary was extremely low,” said Benick. “We know the voters will be turning out next week to vote for for Rice and the statewide races on the ballot. If we can get Brent’s supporters to write-in his name for county council, we believe we can win.”