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Legislature: Final plan puts county in new 7th Congressional District

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County has moved from the 1st Congressional District to the 6th and back again as legislators worked through redistricting, but it ended up in the right place, according to county Republicans.

A compromise plan that received final approval from legislators on Tuesday puts the county in a new 7th District with Horry County and the Pee Dee.

“After public comment, we had a game plan on the redistricting committee and we got exactly what the people were hoping for,” said S.C. Sen. Ray Cleary.

The plan was approved by the state House on Tuesday afternoon and Senate approval followed that evening. The pending vote attracted a number of people in support of a 7th District that would join Georgetown and Horry counties with the Pee Dee, including Jim Jerow, the Georgetown County Republican Party chairman, and the vice chairman, R.L. Port.

“This is a feather in everybody’s cap,” Jerow said shortly after the Senate vote. “It’s what we wanted all along. Georgetown County has more of an association and a relationship with Horry County and those [Pee Dee] counties than we do with Charleston.”

Georgetown County is currently split between the 1st and 6th districts, with the Waccamaw Neck in the 1st District, which runs along the coast from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.

Growth in the state led to the creation of the 7th District following the 2010 Census.

Party members were dismayed last month when Cleary backed a plan that put Georgetown County in the 6th District, held by Democratic U.S. Rep. James Clyburn. But he’s back in their good graces following the new plan’s approval.

“Sen. Cleary and those who served on the committee did a wonderful job,” Jerow said.

Nancy Kolman, county Democratic party chairwoman, said she has mixed emotions about the plan. She said she thinks the county could have been just as well off remaining with Charleston County in the 1st District.

A lot of the moving from district to district Georgetown County did on plans was “part of the political process,” Cleary said. “Some maps were put out there in order to protect people back home, even though they knew we were going in a different direction, and some maps are out there for the justices to potentially review if we couldn’t get the legislature to agree.”

Since the legislature did agree to a plan, “for the most part the justices might tweak it here or there,” Cleary said. “You can never count on what a judge will do, but I’m told the Justice Department will be very limited and doesn’t have as much discretion when a map is approved by the Senate and the House.”

The governor still has to approve the plan before it gets to that point, but “that should not be a problem,” Cleary said.

It would be the first time in 30 years a redistricting plan hasn’t been vetoed by the governor. Gov. Jim Hodges vetoed a Republican plan in 2001 and Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. vetoed a Democratic plan in 1991.

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