Congressional redistricting to benefit Horry County?

A while back, the Blogland discussed the prospects of South Carolina getting a seventh seat in Congress, speculating on how the seats may be drawn. Right now, all the signs point to reapportionment being a big win for the folks from heavily-Republican Horry County.

Over the last few decades, political muscle of the county which bills itself as the "Independent Republic of Horry" has grown considerably, making it the largest metro area in the state not to have a resident member of Congress (Aiken, Beaufort and Florence are the others).  Each round of redistricting over the last three decades has added a State House seat to the county and the county likely will claim another seat, or draw in major parts of seats from neighboring counties, next year. Also, the Senate seat currently held by Dick Elliot was originally an upper Pee Dee seat, but over the 1991 and 2001 reapportionment cycles has gradually been moving into Horry, a process which will likely be completed next year.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Myrtle Beach State Rep. Alan Clemmons is expected to be one of the key legislative players in redistricting. He cautioned us that "regardless of where a 7th SC Congressional District calls home, the area encompassed by the other 6 districts will, by necessity, be dramatically altered."

But there are other people outside of Horry County who would probably like moving Horry into a 7th District.

Charleston Republicans: A rising share of the decisive GOP primary vote in the district is coming from outside of Charleston County (this was discussed back in May). It was 39% of the 2000 primary, but has dropped much lower since then, comprising 30% of primary voters in 2008 and 35% in 2010. The Georgetown-Horry bloc has maintained a steady 35% share of the primary turnout over the last decade, voting exactly 46 fewer voters than Charleston County.

If the First was restored to the old Charleston-Beaufort alignment that had existed for most of the 20th Century, Charleston would be the largest primary voter bloc in the district, with 28,375 votes coming from Charleston County this year to Beaufort County's 14,735.  With all First District voters in the Charleston metro area casting a total of 52,516 ballots this year, Beaufort-area First District candidates would easily be overwhelmed in a race where geography was a major factor.

Pee-Dee region Republicans: In the old Pee-Dee based Sixth District, Pee Dee Republicans enjoyed some occasional moments of victory. Two Republicans held the seat for a single term each: Ed Young in the 1970s and John Napier in the 1980s. Normally, GOP nominees could be counted in running in the mid-40s or better, and in a year like 1994 and 2010, they could've won such a district.

Since the 6th was drawn to be South Carolina's majority-black district, those Republicans have chafed at having Jim Clyburn as their Congressman, using his campaign to rally strong Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts every election year, hurting local Republican candidates down the ballot.

If a new Seventh district leaves out more Democratic areas of the Pee Dee, such as Williamsburg County, lower Florence County, and rural Georgetown, while leaving Republican areas in Darlington and Florence Counties in the district, would leave enough Republican voters in the district to give them a fighting chance to field a GOP primary candidate against an Horry-based candidate, while leaving enough of the overall vote outside of Horry to keep an Horry County resident Representative from ignoring Pee Dee concerns.
Congressman Jim Clyburn, who often loses Florence County, probably wouldn't mind giving that region up either.

We've heard the arguments that the Upstate would get the district, but with three House members already: Jeff Duncan from Laurens, Trey Gowdy from Spartanburg and Mick Mulvaney from Lancaster, there's no room for an additional district, nor the population.

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