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Politics: County GOP leaders ready to step down after victory

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

After helping steer the GOP to some major victories in the 2010 election, two local Republican party leaders will leave office in 2011.

Tom Swatzel, the county party’s chairman, won’t seek re-election when his second term ends in the spring, he confirmed this week. He set a two-term limit for himself when he first sought the office in 2007.

Jim Jerow, president of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club, is stepping down from his post as well, he announced last week. He has been the club’s president for five years and part of its leadership for 14 years.

He’s also Swatzel’s pick for the next party chairman.

“I’d certainly hope Jim will at least consider becoming a party officer if not the chairman,” Swatzel said.

Jerow isn’t ruling it out, but he’s not ready to make any commitments either.

“I need to think it through,” Jerow said.

While Swatzel has been encouraging him to run for the party chairmanship for some time, Jerow said he had to make up his mind to leave his role with the Republican Club first. The party’s success in the general election helped convince him the timing was right to make that move.

“What a great year to go out,” Jerow said.

Jerow was the only person Swatzel mentioned by name as a possible candidate for the chairmanship, but Swatzel said there are others who could do a good job in the position.

“There are a lot of good people out there and I think some will step forward,” he said.

The party’s executive committee will meet on Dec. 15 to discuss appointing a nominating committee to develop a slate of candidates for party offices.

A meeting on Dec. 13 will have members of the Republican club talk about that group’s future leadership.

“We’ll get together and find out who is willing to do what,” Jerow said. “I think there are some people who want to step in, but I want to be sure they understand what all is involved and what needs to be done.”

Jerow said he has enjoyed his time as the club’s president and met a lot of wonderful people, but “it’s time for somebody else to come in and take over and take the club to a new position.”

Swatzel gave a similar reason for stepping down. He said it’s time for someone to come in and “bring a fresh perspective” to the office.

“That’s what term limits do,” he said.

Swatzel also imposed a term limit on himself when he was elected to County Council in 1994. He was the first Republican ever elected to the council and served two terms there, too.

Swatzel said he is “looking at getting into some campaign consulting” when his term ends.

He is proud of what the county party has accomplished during his four years of leadership, he added, including winning House District 108 following a hard-hitting mail campaign against incumbent Democrat Vida Miller.

“We also managed to be very successful at raising money this election cycle,” Swatzel said. “This past election cycle, [the party] managed to have more money in the bank than nearly every Republican party in the state.”

At one point, the party had about $30,000 on hand, said Howard Ward, party treasurer. They still have about $10,000 available.

“We’ve never had a year like this,” Ward said. “In past years we’ve come within $500 of being broke at mid-term like this.”

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