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Election 2016: GOP leaders endorse Goldfinch senate bid

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Stephen Goldfinch has picked up endorsements from the Republican establishment in Georgetown County in his campaign for the state Senate.

Jerry Rovner, president of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club and chairman of the 7th Congressional District GOP, said he’s endorsing Goldfinch to replace Sen. Ray Cleary in S.C. Senate District 34 over primary rivals Joe Ford of Pawleys Island, Reese Boyd III of Murrells Inlet and Dick Withington of Myrtle Beach.

President Judy Clarke told members of the Georgetown County Federation of Republican Women that their executive committee had voted to endorse Goldfinch on Monday. Clarke asked Rovner why U.S. Rep. Tom Rice hasn’t endorsed Goldfinch.

“We are concerned as to why Rep. Rice has not come out for Stephen,” Clarke said, “primarily because we know that Stephen has been there no matter what through all the time he has run. It’s only fair to give Stephen that endorsement.”

Tom Keegan, who was representing Rice at the GOP women’s meeting, said it’s not his custom to endorse in a primary.

Goldfinch said his campaign’s polling shows him with a double-digit lead in the primary race. “I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said. Goldfinch has raised $110,000 for his campaign and told the Republican women he would need another $50,000 by June.

Joe Ford, one of four candidates in the race for the seat being vacated by retiring state Sen. Ray Cleary, said he wasn’t surprised that the Republican establishment is backing Goldfinch. “This is typical establishment Republican politics that have gotten the party into trouble,” Ford said. “It’s all an inside club.”

He said voters are saying they are concerned about roads and schools. “It’s always interesting to meet a lot of people,” Ford said, “because as soon as they find out you are running they tell you about all their problems.”

Ford said road maintenance has been neglected for too long. “That’s the reason I got into the race, because of the neglect. Anytime money is allocated for a new road,” he said, “there should be money allocated for the maintenance of that road on a long-term basis.”

Forum planned for GOP Senate candidates

Candidates for state Senate District 34 will take questions from voters next month in a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

Reese Boyd, Joe Ford, Stephen Goldfinch and Dick Withington are seeking the Republican Party nomination for the seat now held by Sen. Ray Cleary, who is not running for another term. No Democrat has filed for the seat, which includes the Waccamaw Neck and portions of Horry and Charleston counties.

The forum will be held May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Waccamaw Library. Candidates will answer written questions from voters submitted at the event and in advance through the local League’s website, lwvgc.org. AARP, the Coastal Observer and the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsors for the event. The Observer editor, Charles Swenson, will serve as moderator.

The GOP primary is June 14 and is open to any eligible voter who is registered by May 14. For registration information, go to scvotes.org.

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