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GOP outspent its House candidate

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Georgetown County Republican Party spent more on the race for House District 108 than its winning candidate, according to filings with the state Ethics Commission.

Kevin Ryan spent $17,177 to unseat Vida Miller, a Democrat who served seven terms in the General Assembly. The GOP spent $19,338 on ads that attacked Miller’s record.

The largest donor to the county party was South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a group that campaigns for school choice. It gave the party $10,000. Its chairman is Tom Swatzel, who also chairs the county GOP.

Miller spent $72,145 on the campaign, twice what Ryan and the GOP spent. But that was well below the $95,475 she spent in 2008.

Spending on the District 108 race, $108,660 altogether, was only about half of what was spent in 2008.

“None of us raised as much money,” Miller said. “It was the economy. Everybody was having trouble raising money.”

She raised $63,724 during the campaign and had $7,900 left over. Ryan raised $18,670 and had $1,843 in the bank.

Ryan, a graduate student at the College of Charleston, had trouble raising money early on, Swatzel said. “There was concern whether the House Republican Caucus would kick in,” he said. It came through with $1,000.

The county party agreed to fund “issue-advocacy” ads, as it did in the 2008 race when Jill Kelso was the party’s nominee. South Carolinians for Responsible Government gave the county GOP $5,000 in that campaign.

The group’s funding for the Ryan campaign was based on the candidate’s ability to attract donations, Swatzel said.

Howard Ward, the treasurer for the county party, said the advocacy group’s money wasn’t factored into initial plans for the District 108 race.

Ryan got $1,000 donations after the election from political action committees run by two other house members: Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach and Bill Sandifer of Seneca.

He also spent nearly $3,000 in the weeks following the election on statehouse office expenses, including a $1,396 charge at the Apple store in Charleston.

Ryan wasn’t available for comment Wednesday.

In another contested local race, Ricky Horne raised $4,300 in his unsuccessful write-in campaign against Jerry Oakley in County Council District 1. Oakley raised $1,749.

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