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US Rep. Tom Rice backs Gov. Henry McMaster’s GOP primary bid

June 4, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice on Monday announced support for Gov. Henry McMaster’s bid for a first full term in office, bringing what the Republican’s campaign hopes is a boost in the closing days of this year’s primary election campaign.

In announcing his endorsement of McMaster’s bid for a first full term in office, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice lauded the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in South Carolina during McMaster’s time in office, including more than 2,000 in the 7th District, which he represents.

“If you want economic prosperity and jobs, this is nirvana,” Rice said during a conference call with reporters. “This is the place you want to be.”

The two planned to spend some time campaigning together in the district Saturday, visiting Myrtle Beach and Florence as part of a bus tour McMaster said he’s kicking off Wednesday, in the run up to the June 12 primary voting. McMaster told reporters that he and Rice agree on “so many of the very important issues,” like economic development and opposition to drilling off South Carolina’s coast.

Rice was first elected in 2012 to represent South Carolina’s 7th District, a rapidly growing area that includes Myrtle Beach. It’s also home to several counties with the state’s highest unemployment figures, a situation Rice said he was confident McMaster could continue to turn around with more time in office.

Along with Rice, McMaster also has support from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. Longtime Graham strategist Scott Farmer joined McMaster’s campaign as a consultant earlier this year. McMaster — in office since Nikki Haley stepped down last year to become U.N. Ambassador — also has the backing of President Donald Trump, who traveled to the state last fall to participate in a fundraiser for him.

According to a Five-Thirty-Eight analysis of Rice’s congressional votes, the three-term Republican votes in line with Trump’s position more than 96 percent of the time.

McMaster faces four primary challengers. Last week, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman announced his support for one of them, former state public health chief Catherine Templeton.

On the other side of the race, South Carolina’s lone congressional Democrat, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, is backing state Rep. James Smith.

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