Stepping up to stump; Georgetown port accrues support for deepening

Election season in South Carolina goes from June to November, but as the weather cools the campaigns heat up.

Tuesday night's Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce's Boil 'n' Stump kicked off the fall campaign season.

Around 20 candidates for positions from governor to school board traveled to Georgetown on Tuesday to give three-minute stump speeches from atop a wooden platform on the banks of the Sampit River, across from the Port of Georgetown.

"It's an old-fashioned, small-town political rally," said Annette Fisher of the Georgetown chamber.

Fisher said the chamber has been putting this event together every two years since 1998.

"Voter education is one of our priorities," said Fisher.

She said that though the event has been going on for a while, this year's location, the Carroll A. Campbell Marine Complex, was new.

And it had an unexpected consequence.

Many candidates talked about the need to deepen the Georgetown Port, gesturing across the river.

"We did not plan that," Fisher said. "But we'll take any talk about the port we can get."

Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 1 Ben Frazier, the first candidate to speak, touted his experience as a small-business owner as the reason people should vote for him.

"I know what it's like to live from paycheck to paycheck, or no paycheck to no paycheck," he said.

Frazier also was the first to mention the need to deepen the Georgetown Port, saying in his stump speech that he would work to make the port 5 feet deeper.

Most of the candidates also spoke about the desire to restore pride to South Carolinians.

"I want to get us off the late show," said Marjorie Johnson, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state.

Johnson, one of the few female candidates at the event, said she would use her experience working for the National Advisory Group to the Environmental Protection Agency on Water Quality Standards to work for the state.

The only gubernatorial candidate at the event was Morgan Reeves, the United Citizens candidate.

Reeves gave his stump speech from behind a huge campaign sign.

Reeves said he would bring year-round schooling to South Carolina and would also work to build an ethanol plant in the state.

Much of the audience sitting on the bleachers in front of the candidates were small children, brought by a group advocating for more funding for education.

Some who attended, including Owen Johnson, didn't consider themselves very political.

"I'm in support of my best interests," Owen said. "I support the ones who support Georgetown."

Johnson, his wife, Jenny, and toddler son were at the event together.

Johnson said he mostly came to the event to support the chamber of commerce, since he owns Indigo Vision Center in Georgetown.

He said he thinks it is important to be a "willing participant in the community."

And Fisher said that idea is why the chamber puts on the events.

"We want to inform people in a nonpartisan way," she said.