Rice Tops Bauer in 7th District
By Amanda Carey
COLUMBIA, South Carolina: Horry County Council chairman Tom Rice beat out former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer in the GOP primary runoff on June 26. Rice will face Professor Gloria Bromell Tinubu (D) in the November general election to see who will be the latest addition to the South Carolina delegation in the U.S. Congress. Though Bauer was in the lead until the final days of the campaign, many observers say it was the endorsement of S.C. Governor Nikki Haley that put Rice over the top. Haley even hit the campaign trail with Rice in the final days. Bauer's endorsement from the Myrtle Beach Tea Party could not compete.
Rice's campaign manager, Walter Whetsell, agreed that Haley's help put the candidate over the top after Bauer dominated in spending ($300,000) and flooded the media market with mailers and TV ads. "But when the governor did what she did [on] Friday...it put the wind back in our sails...and gave us a momentum boost," said Whetsell. Others said Bauer's candidacy was doomed from the start after a disappointing gubernatorial run in 2010 and a controversial record. "Anyone who has run statewide that many times and can't seal the deal in a primary (and must go to a runoff), he's going to be toast," said Joel Sawyer, a former press secretary for Gov. Mark Sanford.
In the primary on June 12, Bauer topped the GOP field of nine candidates with 32 percent of the vote. Rice came in second with about 27 percent. In the runoff, Rice soundly beat Bauer 56 to 44 percent.
On the Democratic side, Tinubu beat her runoff challenger, Preston Brittain. Tinubu went into the primary with the backing of local unions and progressive Democrats in the Myrtle Beach area. Brittain, however, had endorsements from several prominent S.C. Democrats, including Rep. James E. Clyburn and former Gov. Jim Hodges.