By Jim Hulen, North Myrtle Beach Online.com
June 8, 2012 Myrtle Beach, SC – Nine Republican candidates came together to challenge each other to become the Republican Party’s candidate for the new South Carolina District 7 Congressional seat. The event, sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Strand Business Alliance, offered insight not only to the political positions of the candidates but a glimpse into their personalities.
Moderated by Charles Bierbaur, Dean of Mass Communications Studies at the University of South Carolina and former Senior CNN Correspondent with questions posed by the State newspaper’s Valerie Bauerlein, WPDE’s Tim McGinnis and WMBF’s Mike Maely, the debates presented Renee Culler, a chemist, a business woman and a real estate sales professional, Randall Wallace, real estate and MB Council since 2002, Katherine Jenerette, Captain in U.S Army Reserve, field representative for the First Congressional District and former member of the North Myrtle Beach Planning Commission, Tom Rice, a Myrtle Beach tax attorney and current Chair of the Horry County Council, Andre Bauer, former Lt. Governor and former member of the SC House and Senate, Chad Processor, former Director of SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism and former Horry County Council Chair, Jay Jordan, attorney from Florence, former member of the Florence Election Commission, Jim Mader, Landscape Company Owner, and Dick Withington, retired naval officer and business owner.
Bierbaur question to the candidates as to how much money they have raised produced a wide range of responses, with five candidates, Culler, Wallace, Jenerette, Mader and Withington at less than $30, 000 and Rice $530,000, Bauer $550,000, Prosser $430,000 and Jordan $370,000.
Rice was challenged by McGinnis why he was running when he has only served a year and a half as Horry County Chair and had committed to finish the term before running for another office. Rice’s response was when he made that statement the District 7 seat did not exist. He went on to say many people had encouraged and requested him to run for the seat.
Bauerlein asked Bauer about his past remarks calling welfare recipients to stray dogs. Bauer made his famous or infamous statement during a town hall meeting while running for SC Governor in 2010. In that town hall meeting he said, “My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” Bauer responded that he never compared welfare recipients to stray animals, saying “The news media did that.” He added that he tried to address the issue of more and more people on governmental dependency systems and create systems that build them up not hold them down.
While Processer was SC PRT Director comments circulated that he was rarely in the office. Processer responded that more government officials need to get out of their office and asserted that it was by being in the field he was able to turn around the park system and make it more efficient.
A question about the top three agencies or programs each candidate would cut brought interesting answers. Withington was the only candidate that wanted Medicare and the military to be cut. Others, in general, agreed upon the Departments of Energy, Education and Housing and Urban Development, with some mentioning the Department of Commerce. Rice called for the elimination of Obamacare, Education and Energy. Processor wanted the privatization of TSA.
When a series of questions on job creation and saving Social Security were addressed only to Rice, Processer and Bauer, Randall Wallace criticized Bierbaur for not including him and the others. Culler challenged that polls sampling a small number of voters could identify the front runners. Claiming a small sample of 700,000 people in the district was not representative, she said, “That is a bunch of bull.”
Candidate Mader apparently wearied of not receiving questions and left the stage to gather chairs for Withington, Culler, Wallace and Jenerette wherein Jenerette proceeded to loudly protest the debate process, saying “You need to hear from all of us.”
While Bierbaur was announcing a break saying “We’ll be back in a moment,” Randall Wallace could be heard commenting, “the four of them will.” The break begin with boo’s from the audience.
Returning, questions were posed to all concerning abortion, immigration and foreign affairs.