Myrtle Beach voters will have another chance this year to cast a ballot in a primary election.
Longtime Statehouse Rep. Alan Clemmons suddenly stepped down last month, just weeks after winning the original Republican primary for the S.C. House of Representatives District 107 seat during the June 9 primary.
Now voters in the District 107 — encompassing most of Myrtle Beach — will be able to cast their ballots in a Republican primary on Aug. 18.
According to Horry Elections Director Sandy Martin, voters in precinct Myrtlewood #3 will vote at Myrtle Beach High School. Only four voters in the Lake Park #2 precinct are eligible to vote in this election, and they will be able to cast ballots at the Jetport #2 precinct.
To avoid any confusion finding the correct voting location, check SCvotes.org or call the Horry County elections office at (843) 915-5440.
Republican candidates include political newcomer Case Brittain and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride. The rules are the same this primary as in normal primaries. While you have to live in the district, you do not have to be a Republican to vote in this primary. No runoff will be needed.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Tony Cahill of the Democratic Party and Libertarian Wm. Dettmering on Nov. 3.
The Post & Courier talked to each about their goals, if elected, and how they would go about accomplishing them.
Case Brittain is running for office for the first time, but is the only candidate seeking the office currently who ran against Clemmons for the June 9 primary. A criminal defense lawyer at the Brittain Law Firm, he is hoping to “making the Grand Strand grand again.”
Education and economic development are the focuses of his campaign as he hopes to increase salaries in the area and make it easier for families to find jobs.
“Education leads to more choices,” Brittain said.
A key way he hopes to accomplish his goals is to leverage the economic productivity of Myrtle Beach to get more state funding in turn. From his perspective, when Myrtle Beach sends more money to the state budgets it doesn’t see the full benefit of its contributions in return.
If the Grand Strand could get more financial investments from the state, then local leaders would have more avenues to fund improvement projects, he said. He’d like to see a more community feel across Myrtle Beach where everyone wants to work together for common goals.
“I want to go up to Columbia and say we need our fair share for public safety and infrastructure,” he said. “I am going to build relationships in Columbia and I am going to build relationships locally. We are going to come together as a community and build forward toward a goal. That’s the process of getting real change in Myrtle Beach.”
Brittain sees public safety as a big part of making the area a better place to live. Funding for police often comes from local governments, so Brittain sees the role of representative as one that should work with local governments to accomplish their goals.
“I want to make sure our tourists and our residents in 107 feel safe,” Brittain. “I don’t want anyone to think I am turning my back on public safety.”
Brittain knows flooding is going to be an issue the area has to grapple with moving forward. He has talked with flooding issues in the area and what potential mitigation solution there might be. He supports the state making a thorough plan that protects homeowners and potential homeowners.
Case knows what he proposes will take time for the benefits to become evident, but he said making lasting solutions to the challenges the area faces is worth the effort.
“I think there is something to be said for the one that paved the way for this special election and was in the trenches against an incumbent,” Brittain said.
Brittain is a huge cheeseburger fan and likes to find new diners when visiting an area.
Mark McBride was the mayor of Myrtle Beach from 1997 to 2005. While he did not challenge Clemmons in the original primary because he thought it would be hard to unseat the incumbent, he has decided to run in the special election, announcing his campaign last week.
Public safety is the issue McBride has centered his campaign around citing concerns that the Myrtle Beach area has become unsafe. He believes Myrtle Beach shouldn’t have to call on public safety officers from the outside area except on a rare occasion.
“I have no problem taking issues forward and fighting for my causes,” McBride said.
Increasing security measures in the city needs to be the focus for now, McBride said. All other issues, like bringing in more education, transportation and infrastructure can be addressed once the area is secure, he said in a video update.
Myrtle Beach City Council members are ultimately responsible for raising taxes and fees to pay for additional officers. McBride said he wants to use a position in the statehouse to lobby for changes to state law enabling Myrtle Beach to spend fee revenue money from tourism on hiring more police officers to protect the downtown area instead of on spending it on advertising.
“This door is open and maybe we need to elect a state person to go to Columbia and change the law to use a portion of the advertising money for police,” McBride said. “And only use it for salaries and compensation.“
McBride believes his efforts since the 1990s to make Myrtle Beach safer shows how committed he is to improving the area. He is willing to fight for his beliefs in Columbia, he said, and thinks there is popular support for changing the law on how tourism fee money is spent.
His campaign mostly focuses on public safety. McBride said he doesn’t see flood mitigation as a statewide issue and believes it would be best handled by local governments slowing growth and development.
During his political career McBride has sparked controversies including asking the state to deploy the National Guard during Black Bike Week and opposing a gay bar from opening in city limits. He said he still stands by these decisions because they promoted public safety and the “family beach” idea of Myrtle Beach.
McBride knows there may have been times he made people upset in the past, but asked voters to focus on this election and the ideas he is promoting.
He considers his greatest success keeping his family together for 33 years.
Tony Cahill filed to run as a Democrat and has no challenger from his party. He will be on the November ballot.
Cahill, an educator, is running because he wants to represent the whole district, not just those who voted for him, according to a release he sent to the Post and Courier.
He believes helping foster a sense of community will go a long way to making the city more safe and enjoyable. His platform wants to make everyone feel like they have a voice.
“The U.S. Constitution talks about ‘promoting the general welfare’ — a phrase that seems to have fallen out of vogue,” he wrote. “It takes all of us pulling together with differing degrees and abilities to raise that tide that lifts all boats, even more so during and after Covid-19.”
Safety is his main platform issue, followed by improving infrastructure within the community. Cahill was a lifelong vacationer in Myrtle Beach, and now that he lives in the community, he wants to give back to the area.
“I want to do more for the city I love than just pick up trash in the yard, along the streets, and on the beach,” he wrote.
Wm. Dettmering doesn’t want the election to be decided before November as is common in Horry County when only Republicans run for office. With no incumbent in the election, he figured it was a good time to promote his “pro-liberty” ideas and give voters an alternative.
“I thought maybe if I threw my hat in the ring we could at least give the voters a conversation come November 3rd,” he said.
Dettmering said local Republican culture isn’t in favor of small government and lower taxes, which is why he decided to run as a Libertarain. He thinks decreasing the amount of special interests in government is good for democracy, but did not specifically call out any specific special interests he’d like to see removed from government because he didn’t want to name individuals or companies.
“But we cannot have money going to political campaigns from groups or PACs at all,” he said. “I’d love to see where it can only come from individuals.”
He pointed to local Republican leaders supporting a county-funded interstate construction project or using eminent domain against businesses as examples of the party not having small government values.
While he supports I-73, he wants the federal government to pay for it.
For development and environmental concerns, Dettmering would like to see developers on the hook for paying for environmental studies and that protecting low income families should be the priority.
“It always seems like it is the poor and middle class taking the brunt of this. This has to change,” Dettmering said,
Ultimately, Dettmering knows winning as a third party candidate can be a long shot. In fact, he might not be on the ballot if he doesn’t get the support from his party later this month ahead of the election.
Still he hopes voters see that there is a growing small government movement amongst Horry County conservatives.
“A lot of people are upset about the ‘liberatarian takeover,’ but that’s not what is going,” he said. “It’s just people who want a smaller government in a way that is not grabbing taxes or fees to go into special interests.”
Dettmering is a history nerd who likes connecting with his German heritage.