Big legislative shake-up looming in the Grand Strand

With redistricting and several incumbents leaving, the Georgetown and Horry County legislative delegations could send at least a half-dozen new faces to Columbia after next year's elections. This region's political clout in Columbia has steadily grown since the 1970s, picking up a new House district each of the last four redistricting cycles, as well as the gradual shift of the majority of Senate District 28, once entirely in the rural Pee Dee, into Horry County.

While Myrtle Beach State Rep. Alan Clemmons opted to remain in his State House seat instead of seeking the new Seventh Congressional District, at least four other Grand Strand House seats are epected to be vacant when filing time rolls around in March (pending approval of the State Senate districts):
  • House District 56. This new seat was shifted to Horry from Chesterfield and Darlington Counties.
  • House District 68. This Myrtle Beach seat is being vacated by Thad Viers who is running for the 7th Congressional District seat, who has held the seat since it was moved from the Pee Dee in the 2001 redistricting cycle.
  • House District 104. This North Myrtle Beach seat, held by Tracy Edge since 1996, may be vacated should he follow through on rumored plans to challenge Democratic State Senator Dick Elliot.
  • House District 108. After scoring an upset win over long-time Democratic Rep. Vida Miller last year, Republican State Rep. Kevin Ryan decided not to seek a second term next year.
While a large crop of candidates is likely to contest these open House seats, expect to see other new faces on the Georgetown and Horry delegations from other House and Senate districts.

In addition, House District 57 and Senate District 30, both based in Marion County, will pick up about 5,000 Horry residents. Any contests for these Democratic districts would probably by decided by Democratic primary voters from outside of heavily Republican Horry County.

A seventh new face on the coastal delegation could be the winner of the looming battle for Senate District 28. While Democratic Dick Elliot has held the seat since he knocked off scandal-tainted Senator Gene Carmichael in the 1992 Democratic primary, he's barely won re-election in several contests as the seat has increasing tilted to the GOP. With the seat shedding many of its Democratic voters, losing all of its Marlboro and Marion County precincts and most of Dillon County, re-election will be much tougher for Elliot next year. Republican Solicitor Greg Hembree is already running for the seat and Rep. Tracy Edge is rumored to be looking at running as well. Given the strong shift of the seat's demographics, we expect other Republicans may also be looking at the seat.

Given the potential for additional retirements or electoral upsets next year, the region's growing legislative bloc could feature even more freshmen legislators from the Grand Strand when the 2013 General Assembly convenes in Columbia.

1 Response to "Big legislative shake-up looming in the Grand Strand"

  1. Anonymous 21/12/11 19:16
    1. Viers - good grief, what will he want to be when he grows up?
    2. Edge - pretty rough home life for this dude...maybe need to stay around the ranch a little more?
    3. Ryan - what a disappointment...GOP has to start all over here...

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