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Democrats: Former chairman runs for party leader

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

There were a couple of announcements before the Waccamaw Neck Democrats got to hear from three congressional candidates.

Hannah Cromley, who chairs the county Democratic Party, said there were places open for delegates to the county convention from the Waccamaw Neck precincts.

Nancy Kolman said the S.C. Democratic Women’s Council, which she leads, will meet in the county in April.

And before she sat down, Kolman added that she is a candidate to replace Cromley.

“That decision was made five minutes before I walked into the room, not even five minutes,” Kolman said.

Although the announcement was news to Cromley, who became interim chairwoman last year, she said afterward she never intended to run for a full two-year term.

Cromley, 29, said she has some job opportunities that may take her out of the area.

“I don’t know that I can commit myself to two years,” she said.

She heard from one other person who was interested in the party leadership, but isn’t sure that person is still interested.

“I think healthy competition is good,” Cromley said. “It builds excitement.”

Kolman chaired the party from 2004 to 2006, taking over after Charles McGill resigned. She managed Vida Miller’s re-election campaign in state House District 108 in 2008.

“Some Democratic officeholders and party members approached me to run,” Kolman said. “I want to do my part, along with a strong slate of officers, to get our Democratic candidates elected.”

She talked it over with her husband, Larry, then decided to use the candidate forum to announce her intentions.

She left for a meeting in Browns Ferry hosted by Democratic state Rep. Carl Anderson to make the same announcement.

Kolman, who lives at Pawleys Plantation, was the first woman to chair the county party when she was elected in 2004. Since then, the Republicans have won a majority of seats on County Council and the Board of Education, which became nonpartisan in 2008.

Although there was a record turnout in the Democratic primary in 2008, leading to a record number of delegates in the upcoming county convention, John McCain still beat Barack Obama in the county, 52 to 47 percent.

Kolman said Democrats can’t rely on the coattail effect of Obama’s election.

“It all starts at home, it is the local positions that should always be addressed,” she said. “We have to start at this level and work up.”

Democrats were disappointed with the turnout at precinct meetings last month, held in the former Winyah High gym in Georgetown.

Although participation wasn’t necessary to become a county convention delegate, party members said they expected more people to show up.

Bill Murray, who was one of six people from Pawleys Island 2 to caucus, said he would like to see more young people involved.

“After 30 years, I’m still seeing the same faces,” Murray said.

As of this week, there are 162 delegates signed up for the county convention, Cromley said. There is still room for more, though she didn’t have an exact count of the available slots in all the precincts.

“We’re going to have a great county convention,” Cromley said.

Candidate filing runs from March 16 to March 30. The convention is March 20.

Cromley said she is planning for an orderly transition since her successor will take over midway through the filing period.

There is some interest in County Council District 1, where Republican Jerry Oakley is seeking a third term, and District 6, where Republican Glen O’Connell is stepping down, but “nothing definite,” Cromley said.

Although Kolman said she doesn’t know what the party has done about recruiting candidates, “it’s not like we’re behind.”

“We have a good opportunity now to seat some Democrats since we have Obama in the White House,” she said. “This election is just as important as the one was in 2008.”

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