Local Republicans get plenty of looks at presidential hopefuls ahead of primary

SC Votes


Bluffton Today: February 17, 2016, By SCOTT THOMPSON, scott.thompson@blufftontoday.com

After listening to months of debate and campaign rhetoric and seeing several candidates visit the area, Beaufort County voters head to the polls Saturday for the South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

In-person absentee voting ends Friday. It is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Voter Registration offices at 15 John Galt Road in Beaufort and 61B Ulmer Road in Bluffton.

Voters will choose between six Republicans still in the race for the White House: businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

All of the remaining candidates, except Carson, have made multiple stops in Beaufort County since the campaign season took off last summer.

Trump, who won the New Hampshire primary Feb. 9, has led in recent polling over Cruz, who won the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. Rubio, Bush, Kasich and Carson are trailing, but battling for a higher finish to give their campaigns a boost.

Popular campaign spot

Kasich has made four stops in the county since he entered the race in July and will make his fifth today at 11:30 a.m. in the Bluffton Promenade. Rubio made his fourth and Trump his third appearance with stops Tuesday in Beaufort. Trump also will appear at Sun City’s Magnolia Hall at 10 a.m. today.

Cruz has appeared twice, including a stop Sunday at Community Bible Church in Port Royal, and Bush made his second visit last week as well. Bush will host a town hall at the Beaufort Inn at 10:30 a.m. today.

Former candidates Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Rick Perry all made stops in Beaufort County last year.

Attendance has been strong for all of the campaign events, Beaufort County Republican Party spokesman Joe Iaco said Monday.

“Our turnout has been a little soft in prior years,” Iaco said, “but the response to the candidate visits from the residents has been so large that the campaigns felt it was important to circle back around here.

“I expect the polls will be packed early on Saturday.”

Beaufort County has a track record of being competitive. Though Newt Gingrich won the statewide primary in 2012, Beaufort County went for eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won only two other counties in South Carolina.

If history repeats itself Saturday, a strong performance in Beaufort County could give a candidate who doesn’t win the state an opportunity to at least pick up delegates.

“I think certainly the fact that Beaufort County went against the grain here and voted for Romney makes it viable to a lot of the more traditional candidates,” Iaco said.

One candidate who could be well-positioned in Beaufort County is Kasich, who has drawn large crowds, particularly at his two Sun City stops. Many of the attendees were former Ohio residents who have relocated to the Lowcountry.

“The Ohio connection is real and does play strong for Kasich,” Iaco said.

Sun City resident Penny Chapman, who once lived in Kasich’s former Ohio congressional district, attended the governor’s rally Friday at the pavilion.

Though she remained undecided as of Friday afternoon, Chapman said she was impressed with Kasich’s speech.
“He was a terrific congressman and he has a really fabulous reputation,” Chapman said. “I think he has a lot to offer and he’d be really good as president.”

Cruz’s speech to the church congregation Sunday was aimed at boosting his support among evangelical voters, a demographic with which the front-runner Trump has polled well.

Beaufort resident Barry Malphrus said he appreciated the senator’s call for stronger evangelical turnout.

“I agree with Sen. Cruz that it’s important for Christians to get out and vote their values,” said Malphrus, who is supporting Rubio.

“But I think many of our members here understand that more than one candidate carries those beliefs. We have many candidates on our side that believe in those same principles.”

Iaco said each campaign has a strong ground organization in Beaufort County, but support for Trump is as strong as any other candidate.

“The fact that there’s a lot of transplants here from up north who kind of grew up with or are used to that Trump influence in New York really plays well here,” Iaco said.

“People remember a lot of the business success he’s had and projects he’s completed that he funded himself without government money, and that brings back a lot of good memories.”

GO To the S.C. GOP primary watch party

7 p.m. Saturday

Southern Barrel Brewing Co., 375 Buckwalter Place Boulevard

Details: Light refreshments provided by Greater Bluffton Republican Club and Beaufort County Republican Party

BLUFFTON POLLING LOCATIONS

• Belfair: Belfair Fitness & Sports, 1 Union Court

• Bluffton 1A, 1B, 1C: Bluffton Library, 120 Palmetto Way

• Bluffton 1D, 2A, 2E: Cornerstone Church of Bluffton (formerly First Baptist Church), 11 Church Street

• Bluffton 2B, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 5A, 5B: Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 351 Buckwalter Parkway

• Bluffton 2C, 2D: Pritchardville Elementary School, 9447 Evan Way

• Moss Creek: Moss Creek Bostwick Pavilion, 341 Moss Creek Drive

• Bluffton 3: Bluffton Recreation Center, 61B Ulmer Road

• Rose Hill: Colleton Point Club House, 1 Pavilion Drive

• Sun City 1, 2: Pinckney Hall A, 114 Sun City Lane

• Sun City 7, 8: Pinckney Hall B, 114 Sun City Lane

• Sun City 3, 4: Hidden Cypress, 672 Cypress Hill Drive

• Sun City 5, 6: Magnolia Hall, 118 Sun City Lane

For more information, go to scvotes.org.

Source

Paid for and authorized by the Beaufort County Republican Party.

Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate's Committee.