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The GOP's first formal face-off for 1st Congressional District hopefuls will be held April 26 on Pawleys Island.

All nine Republicans have committed to attend the hour-long forum in a former theater at the Litchfield Beach and Resort, said Jim Jerow, president of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club.

Jerow said admission to the 230-seat venue will be first-come, first-served. The doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and the debate starts at 7.

"I'm positive it will fill up," Jerow said. "We're not trying to promote it outside of our area because we want our people here in the Waccamaw Neck and Georgetown to get to know our nine candidates better."

While Republican and Democratic congressional hopefuls have appeared together at different forums this year, the gathering April 26 is believed to be the first joint appearance for the nine Republicans since their field was finalized last month.

State GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Charleston area Republicans also are working to arrange a similar forum, but no date is set.

The Republican candidates are Charleston businessman Carroll Campbell, Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Ken Glasson, GOP activist Katherine Jenerette of North Myrtle Beach, former Charleston County School Board member Larry Kobrovsky, Mount Pleasant businessman Mark Lutz, Horry County businessman Clark Parker, state Rep. Tim Scott, Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond and Stovall Witte, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Henry Brown.

Brown's decision not to seek re-election opened the floodgates. Democratic voters will pick between commercial pilot Robert Burton of Mount Pleasant against perennial candidate Ben Frasier.

The event is free but the club will seek a $10 donation at the door. The debate will not be broadcast.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771 or at rbehre@postandcourier.com.