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Potential Republican challengers eye District 7 seat following Rice’s impeachment vote

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 7:55 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Some Republicans in Horry County are looking to run against U.S. Rep. Tom Rice after he made a controversial decision against now-former President Donald Trump.

Rice was one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives that voted in favor of impeaching Trump after he was accused of inciting the deadly riot at the United States Capitol.

Now Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson is one of a few people looking at a run for the District 7 seat that is held by Rice.

“I got my first phone call about 10 minutes after Tom voted to impeach the President,” Richardson said.

Richardson has only run for public office once, but now he’s eyeing the seat that Rice has held since 2013.

Richardson said he hasn’t made an official decision yet. He said he only began thinking about it after he watched Rice vote to impeach Trump.

“That is not Tom Rice’s seat. That’s the people’s seat. And what Tom did, he didn’t vote for what the people in his district wanted him to vote. So yes, I do have an interest in it,” Richardson said.

Another potential challenger is South Carolina State Rep. William Bailey. He currently holds the House 104 seat out of the Little River area. On Tuesday, he launched an exploratory committee to see if he should run.

“We decided to reach out and see if there was enough support for that and if I’m the right person for that,” Bailey said.

Bailey has held his current seat at the statehouse since 2018. He won re-election in 2020.

Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride is also discussing if he should run. McBride told WMBF News he would run on a platform very similar to former President Trump’s.

McBride’s term as mayor ended in 2005. In 2015 he tried to win an open Myrtle Beach City Council seat but did not win. He ran again for mayor of Myrtle Beach in 2017 but was unsuccessful.

Most recently he ran in the special Republican primary for the open House 107 seat after Alan Clemmons resigned. McBride lost to Case Brittain, who now holds the seat.

While Rice is facing harsh backlash from the Trump wing of the party, he’s said he doesn’t regret his vote to impeach.

“The president stepped over a line. He violated the constitution, that’s why I did what I did,” Rice said.

Rice added that he’s supported the former president heavily, and said his record shows it. He said he understood a vote to impeach Trump would be controversial to many in District 7.

“If they want someone who’s willing to turn the other way when people trample on the constitution, then I can’t do that. I took an oath to defend the constitution, and I fight like hell for our district,” Rice added. “That’s a part of politics. I feel like I have done what I said I was gonna do and what was asked of me. And I feel like the voters are gonna be happy with me again in the election two years from now. And if they’re not then I’ll accept their decision.”

Horry County GOP Chair Dreama Purdue said they hope someone from Horry County is able to take on Rice in the primary.

She said for the time being however, it is too early for them to actively look to see who they’d like to fill the seat specifically.

Purdue also said this will be an expensive race and many potential challengers will likely weed themselves out before the start of any official filling.

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