Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace said Wednesday he won't try to grab the District 1 seat that U.S. Rep. Henry Brown is vacating.
Wallace said he plans to honor the commitment he made when re-elected to his council seat in November. If Wallace were to win, he'd have to give up the City Council seat. The state constitution prohibits anyone from holding two elected offices at the same time.
"I love this job and it's the job I need to stay in," Wallace said at a news conference, to the surprise of supporters who had gathered to hear his announcement. "We've still got a lot of work to do. We've got Harrelson Boulevard to finish up, neighborhood revitalization, the Withers Swash work. People just re-elected me. They expect me to be here for four years."
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"I'm shocked," said local Republican activist John Bonsignor, who started the campaign to enlistWallace to run. "I'm seriously surprised he didn't tell me beforehand. But when he keeps a secret, he's like the pope. He keeps it in his heart."
But turnabout is fair play. Bonsignor surprised Wallace several weeks ago by setting up a support campaign before he even told Wallace. Bonsignor and others said a Grand Strand resident should be pursuing the job.
Wallace thanked Bonsignor and the others who supported the idea of his candidacy.
"What a compliment," he said. "It stunned me that this many people supported me."
Wallace has often been involved in Washington, D.C., doings, lobbying for the area, and said that might be why some wanted him to run.
There are already 14 people in the race for Brown's seat, including Paul Thurmond, son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, who Wallace is endorsing.
Wallace praised the job Brown has done for the area, citing some of his accomplishments such as beach renourishment funding and money for stormwater management, and said Thurmond has what it takes to be successful. Thurmond stood with Wallace at his press conference.
"I'm anxious to get to D.C. and get to work for people," Thurmond said.
Republicans running for the seat include Thurmond; Carroll Campbell III, son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell Jr.; S.C. Rep. Tim Scott; former Henry Brown staff member Stovall Witte; Horry County accountant Clark Parker; North Myrtle Beach activist Katherine Jenerette; Charleston County School Board member Larry Kobrovsky; Mount Pleasant businessman Mark Lutz; Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Ken Glasson; Isle of Palms City Councilman Ryan Buckhannon.Two Democrats also are seeking the congressional seat: Commercial pilot Robert Burton and Grand Strand businessman Robert Dobbs. Democratic candidate Dick Withington dropped out of the race this week and switched parties to run in the Republican primary for Horry County Council District 5.
Wallace said he would have run if the timing had been better, and hasn't ruled out a run for higher office at some point.
"We'll just have to wait and see what happens," he said.
Bonsignor said he's not disappointed in Wallace.
"I adore him," Bonsignor said. "He's very sincere and earnest. He's one of the nicest people you'll find."