Political activity ramping up across Beaufort County

cconley@islandpacket.comAugust 17, 2012 

Marisa Sherard, left, Phyllis Ivers, middle, and Nancy McLaurin, volunteers with the Beaufort County Democratic party, discuss the filing system at their newly opened office on Carteret Street in Beaufort on Thursday morning. The Republican party has plans to open three offices by the end of the month, one each in Beaufort, Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island but have not announced their locations yet.

DELAYNA EARLEY THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE

Many political observers believe South Carolina will be an easy win this fall for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

But with several swing states within a few hours' drive, Republican volunteers from Beaufort County and elsewhere in South Carolina might soon be knocking on voters' doors in Florida, North Carolina and beyond.

"The chances are very, very good that South Carolina's electoral votes will go to the Republican nominee, which will probably be Mitt Romney," said Jim Dickson, state executive committeeman from the Beaufort County Republican Party. "But Florida and North Carolina, they are contested states. They could determine which way the election goes."

Dickson said the S.C. Republican Party is hoping 1,000 volunteers will fan out across several battleground states.

With only a handful of contested races this fall in Beaufort County, local Republicans aren't the only ones focusing on contests beyond the county line.

David Rice, president of the South of the Broad Democratic Club, said volunteers have been calling on behalf of Bobbie Rose, who is trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, in redrawn District 1, which now stretches from Beaufort County along the coast past Charleston.

But they are also calling voters in Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina from the campaign office on Hilton Head Island, he said.

"Our focus here is on the Bobbie Rose race," he said. "But wherever the (coordinated) campaigns tell us to call, we will call. In this day and age, people have unlimited minutes on their magic cellphones."

In the meantime, there are signs local campaign efforts could pick up steam in coming weeks.

The Beaufort County Democratic Party is opening its headquarters at 705 Carteret St. in downtown Beaufort at 10 a.m. today. That space also will serve as Rose's Beaufort County campaign office.

A campaign rally and picnic at Darrah Hall on the Penn Center campus is scheduled for noon Saturday, immediately after the campaign open house. State Rep. Kenneth Hodges, D-Green Pond, whose district includes parts of Beaufort and Colleton counties, will be the event's keynote speaker. Rose also will address the audience.

The South of the Broad Democratic Club has operated from its space on Hilton Head's Main Street for several weeks. An open house is planned for next month.

Republicans will open offices in Bluffton, Hilton Head and Beaufort within a few weeks, although details are still being worked out. Dickson said the locations have already been chosen and that each office will hold grand opening events next month, likely with appearances from Scott and other elected officials.

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