Local GOP, Democratic groups hope to bring in more presidential hopefuls

Bluffton Today: By SCOTT THOMPSON, July 12, 2015

With the race for the White House back in full swing, local organizations hope to see all the candidates from both major parties make campaign stops in Beaufort County prior to February’s South Carolina primary.

The Beaufort County Republican Party has been particularly aggressive, as seven or eight of its affiliates are working in conjunction to bring all of the GOP hopefuls to the Lowcountry, said Joe Iaco, president of the Greater Bluffton Republican Club.

So far, 14 major Republicans have formally declared their candidacies and at least three more are expected to before the first nationally-televised debate next month.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to officially announce his candidacy Monday and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who spoke at events on Hilton Head Island and in Sun City on Wednesday, is expected to jump into the race July 21. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore has said he will join the contest sometime in August.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also campaigned in Sun City last month and Kelley Paul, the wife of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, made a stop in Bluffton. Several months before his announcement, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared at an event in Bluffton in November.

Three more events with Republican candidates are planned this month, according to Sherri Zedd of the Republicans of Sun City club, which hosted Kelley Paul, Santorum and Kasich.

At noon July 21, Donald Trump will campaign at Magnolia Hall in Sun City. Perry will be back at 2 p.m. July 23 as part of a forum on national security issues hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, also in Magnolia Hall.

And at 9 a.m. July 24, former New York Gov. George Pataki will speak at Bluffton High School during a town hall hosted by Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Eventually, Zedd said, the groups would like to have all of the candidates appear, preferably in multiple stops across the county.

“It’s good that there are so many candidates, and I’ve been helping with this since 2007, so it does take a lot of coordination with each other and the people working on the campaigns,” Zedd said.

“We’re trying to get everyone here, and I think the candidates do like coming to Sun City because they know we vote, and they know they’ll get good crowds.”
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