The crowd at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot Friday afternoon was easily roused with talk about smaller government and taxes.
Clark Parker, one of nine Republicans running for the state's 1st Congressional District seat, held a campaign kick-off event at the Train Depot, nearly two months after starting his campaign. The Horry County accountant waited until the day after taxes were due, but the topic was fresh on the minds of those in attendance.
In a speech to the nearly 200 people gathered for the picnic and campaign stop, Parker promised to never vote to raise taxes or for a budget that isn't balanced. He also said he would vote to decrease the size of federal government and vote in favor of family values and the needs of the 1st District.
"I think it's time in our country to get back to some core principles, individual freedoms, liberties and limited government," Parker told the crowd to a round of applause. "The backbone of our economy exists because small businesses exist. All the burden we put on small business ... they'll start going away and that's why unemployment is so high."
Parker faces eight other opponents in the June 8 primary, only one of which is also from Horry County. Members of the Horry County delegation and the local party attended Friday to offer support for Parker's run, which likely will bring more attention to issues facing the northern portion of a district that stretches to Berkeley County.
Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Rabon said he couldn't endorse a candidate in the primary, but said he has known Parker for most of his life. S.C. Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach, also spoke at the event, offering his support to Parker as the local candidate.
At previous events along the Grand Strand Parker has stayed away from emphasizing his address and focused on his platform issues of less taxes and smaller government, but the crowd at the kick-off rallied around several speakers who emphasized their desire to elect someone from Horry County.
"It's been since the 1980s that we have had someone from Horry County in this office," Rabon said.
Other Republicans running for the seat in the June 8 Primary include North Myrtle Beach activist and military officer Katherine Jenerette, Carroll Campbell III, Paul Thurmond, Stovall Witte, Mark Lutz, S.C. Rep. Tim Scott, Larry Kobrovsky and Ken Glasson.