MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Well-known Republican Jeb Bush is scheduled to appear for a breakfast meeting in Myrtle Beach on Wednesday morning.
The event starts at 8 a.m. at Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse on 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach. It is open to the public and is hosted by the Horry County Republican Party. Tickets cost $25 each; the event is a fundraiser for Bush as he tests the waters in Horry County.
Jeb Bush is said to be considering a run for the White House in 2016. So he's touring all over the Palmetto State this week trying to hit different areas, markets, and voters. His visit is just one of many recent stops from political hopefuls, all vying for a stronghold in South Carolina and especially in Horry County.
South Carolina has become something of a battleground state in the primaries by being one of the first three states in the election cycle. According to the executive committeeman of the Horry County Republican Party, it's important to showcase what the Grand Strand has to offer, from a local, state, and national perspective.
"I think any presidential candidate would be foolish to not come to the Grand Strand," says Russell Fry, the executive committeeman to the SCGOP. "If you look at the statistics, of the ten most populated counties in South Carolina, Horry County has the concentration of Republican voters. So for anyone on the Republican ticket running for president, this is a huge opportunity for them to expose themselves to our area."
Since South Carolina is the first to hold a primary election in the South, the Grand Strand is expected to see a lot of presidential candidates coming through the area. One of the main reasons for that is Horry County's growing population of diverse demographics of retirees, transplants, and long-time residents. According to the chair of the Horry County Democrats, Horry County has seen a 37 percent jump in the past 10 years in population, and that's going to attract candidates from both parties who want to snatch up loyal voters.
"Candidates want to come and talk with people about their ideas, they want to listen to people," says Joan Furlong, the chair of the HCDP. "And because Horry County and Myrtle Beach are so fast-growing and so many people coming here, that this is a good area for candidates to visit. Because it's an early primary state, the road to the White House begins in South Carolina. And that is certainly an attractive element for candidates of all stripes to come here."
Furlong says retirees are voters who actually vote, and that's one demographic candidates from any party want to bank on in Horry County. And she says their interests can go beyond Medicare and social security. "They are people who care as well about strengthening public education, ensuring access to healthcare, making sure that we have good infrastructure, and a strong military and national security," says Furlong.
According to the executive committeeman of the Horry County Republicans, transportation is another huge topic for anyone coming through South Carolina. "Tourism is huge and drives our economy for the most part, locally here," says Fry. "So you'll need things like I-73 and other transportation initiatives. You got to look at ocean outfalls and things like that. And I think voters really want to see from a Republican's standpoint, where these candidates stand on things like taxes and the role of government in individual lives."
The presidential preference primary for South Carolina will be next February.