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Redistricting: District 108 focus shifts from GOP to geography

By Jackie Broach
Coastal Observer

Republicans talked for years about redrawing state House District 108 lines to include fewer Democratic-leaning precincts, such as in the city of Georgetown.

It was seen as a strategy to help the party oust a 14-year Democratic incumbent, but that candidate, Vida Miller, lost the election in 2010 to Republican Kevin Ryan.

Now, the maneuvering of district lines is under way following the 2010 census, but creating a party advantage is a peripheral concern at best.

“Some of the areas we pick up might be Republican-leaning, but that’s not a priority right now,” said Ryan. “The focus is on making sure the district is centered on Waccamaw Neck and tied with Horry County instead of picking up part of the population in Charleston County.”

He said that makes sense, because Georgetown County shares more local concerns and economic interests with Horry County than with Charleston County.

Census numbers show District 108 needs to drop about 700 voters during redistricting. By itself, that would require only minor adjustments to the district’s boundaries, but bigger alterations required in neighboring districts will have an effect in District 108.

“Really, we’d be an ideal district if it weren’t for everyone around us,” Ryan said. “There has been a lot of growth in the northern Mount Pleasant area that will affect things on that end, and Carl Anderson’s district [House District 103] is underpopulated by about 6,000 right now. That’s going to have quite an effect on us.”

In addition, Horry County is expected to gain a district centered around Carolina Forest, which is also likely to impact District 108.

Ryan said he can’t guess what new district lines will look like.

“Honestly, at this point, it’s all still kind of up in the air,” he said.

A seventh congressional district the state will gain is likely to be based in Horry County, according to officials. The state’s population grew more than 15 percent, according to census figures. The new district will need about 660,000 people and legislators are looking at various counties in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee regions as they try to determine where the lines will be drawn.

In state Senate District 34, Sen. Ray Cleary said he will lose about 16,000 constituents to redistricting. That is about two-thirds the number Sen. Luke Rankin in Horry County’s District 33 will need to part with.

Sen. Yancey McGill, who represents Georgetown and Williamsburg counties in District 32, will gain constituents in redistricting.

Georgetown County Council Member Jerry Oakley said he’s not expecting any surprises as council looks at redrawing its seven districts.

“Almost all our growth has been in Districts 1 and 6, so those will have to shrink and others expand,” he said. “It will occasion some realignment, but I don’t expect it to be an arduous challenge.

My sense is that council is very cognizant of what we have to do and I expect it to be done with relative ease.

Oakley represents District 1, which includes Litchfield and Murrells Inlet. District 6, represented by Bob Anderson, runs from around Allston Plantation to Litchfield. As those districts shrink, District 2, represented by Ron Charlton, is likely to expand to the north to include Hagley Estates.

Seven school board districts mirror the County Council districts, so any changes would be reflected there as well.

A public hearing tonight in Myrtle Beach will give area residents an opportunity to offer input on how new political boundaries should be placed. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the courtroom at the Law Enforcement Center on Oak Street.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout, because this is important,” said Ryan. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what comes out of it.”

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