SC Rep. Fry runs for Congress, leaving Columbia headquarters open


South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC


When South Carolina State Representative Russell Fry (R-Surfside Beach) announced earlier this week that he would run for Congress against U.S. Representative Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach), it had a consequence: he said he would not seek re-election to the seat he currently occupies in the state legislature.

“I will not be a candidate for two races,” he said in an interview. “I am a candidate for Congress.

This means that Surfside Beach will have the option of selecting a new representative to the South Carolina House of Representatives.

The big question is who could take that seat.

At this point, said Fry and local political consultants, it’s too early to know who might run for the seat, which runs from Dick Pond Road, past the southern end of Myrtle Beach, to Garden City and part of Murrell’s Inlet.

But three consultants who work with candidates across the Grand Strand and Horry County have suggested that several people who have already stood for seats in Colombia might seize the opportunity.

One of those people is Horry County Council member Tyler Servant, who currently represents Surfside Beach and Garden City on the board, the consultants said. Servant ran against Fry for the District 106 house seat in a 2015 special election. He performed well in the primary, but lost to Fry in a second round.

“I think (Fry is running for Congress) is setting him up for Tyler because he has raced before and hasn’t lost that much before,” said Donald Smith, a Conway-based consultant who worked for the County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner and who is currently working on Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson’s race against Rice.

However, Smith noted, he was not contacted by any candidate looking to run for the seat and could only speculate on who might run.

Other political consultants, including Walter Whetsell, who has led all of Rice’s campaigns since 2012, as well as campaigns for Fry and other Republicans across South Carolina, said other candidates who ran for seats in the state legislature in the region could also be nominated, including lawyer and radio host Reese Boyd III.

Boyd ran against State Senator Stephen Goldfinch in 2016, but lost in a second round. County Council member Cam Crawford, who along with his wife, State Representative Heather Ammons Crawford (R-Socastee), led local political campaigns, agreed Boyd could be a viable candidate in the district.

Several contestants, including Servant and Boyd, said Whetsell, “have raced in this district before and I suspect they would be looking closely at another race.”

Servant said he had heard from a number of people since Fry’s announcement who encouraged him to come forward. However, he said, he’s not going into the race at this point.

“Since Russell’s announcement, a lot of people have contacted me to encourage me to run, but it’s really not something I’m considering at this point,” he said.

Boyd did not return a phone call asking for comment.

Still, with the primary almost a year away, some interviewed by The Sun News said the race will likely take shape in early 2022. The deadline for submitting candidates is March.

Fry, for his part, said he hadn’t had any conversations with potential candidates.

“I haven’t had conversations with anyone. I don’t know who or what or when or where or how, ”he said. “I think it’s so new that everyone is like, ‘Are you running for Congress?’ ”

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