The sweltering heat inside the Peanut Warehouse here Monday night didn’t dampen the spirits of hundreds of Republicans who turned out to support their candidates in upcoming elections.
A bluegrass band played while local and state office candidates abandoned their jackets to shake hands with potential voters before settling down for a chicken bog dinner and political speeches.
The first special election primary will be held May 17 and the general election July 5 to fill the 7th district seat of retiring Horry County Councilman James Frazier.
Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Rabon warned the crowd that if they were planning a big celebration for the Fourth of July holiday, not to go overboard and forget about it.
“When you start your partying on Friday, don’t forget about the election Tuesday,” Rabon said.
“That seat has been held by a Democrat since 1979. Don’t you think it’s time for a Republican?” Rabon said to a cheering response.
Robert Shelley and Mike Roberts are the Republican candidates vying for the nomination next week. Roberts didn’t speak, but Shelley told the crowd about his background as a law enforcement officer and asked for their vote.
“I’ve always supported Frazier,” Shelley said before his speech. “He’s been good for the county and served it well, but when he stepped down, I knew it was my turn.”
When you start your partying on Friday, don’t forget about the election Tuesday.
Robert Rabon, chairman, Horry County Republican Party
Dennis Disabato, who is running for the county council seat for the 3rd district, said his main concern is roads, especially in the Carolina Forest area where he said the population growth is not keeping up with infrastructure needs.
“We’re 20 years behind the times when it comes to roads,” Disabato said.
Republicans state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch and Reese Boyd are also competing in the June 14 primary election to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Ray Cleary of Murrells Inlet.
Goldfinch said he is focusing his campaign on bringing more jobs to the area through a stronger educational system and improved roads and infrastructure.
“Myrtle Beach has far too long been the golden goose of the state and is not getting a fair return,” Goldfinch said.
Boyd said he wants to be the voice for conservative reform in the state legislature.
“The Senate needs an elected leader who will make a difference, and not just give lip service to a reform agenda,” Boyd said.
Candidates for the school board were also invited, but were running late to the event as a special board meeting was ongoing to address the issue of transgender bathroom use.
Asked about where she stood on the issue, Patricia Milley, who is running for the district 8 seat, said the board “should put just as much attention on my platform as on the issue of transgenders.”
Particularly, Milley said the use of ADD drugs should decreased and more attention paid to eliminating illegal drug use in the schools.
State Sen. Greg Hembree does not have any Democrat or Republican opposition, but was there to “show the flag and support all of the Republican candidates.”
Asked about the impact the national election might have on the local contests, Hembree said the anti-establishment movement inspired by GOP nominee Donald Trump would be beneficial to the party.
“What Trump has tapped into could swing the elections,” Hembree said.