Russell Fry

Russell Fry 

Russell Fry hadn’t considered a run for the 7th Congressional District seat until Tom Rice voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Rice’s Jan. 13 vote prompted the state representative from the South Strand to begin having serious conversations about a campaign, and that led to the formal announcement of his candidacy this week.

“The Grand Strand and the Pee Dee deserve a candidate that they can trust,” said Fry, 36, who has served in the S.C. House since winning a special election in 2015. “I believe with my conservative record in the State House that I am that candidate for the district. … We’re at a crossroads in our country right now. People want their leaders to stand up and fight. I think my record in Columbia shows that I’m willing to take those fights, and we need that same tenacity in Washington D.C. from our leaders.”

Formed after the 2010 U.S. Census, the 7th district touches eight counties in northeastern South Carolina and it’s anchored in Horry. Rice has held the post since he won it in 2012. Before that, he was chairman of Horry County Council.

Rice has traditionally enjoyed strong support among Republicans, winning easily last year. But he saw a backlash after his vote to impeach Trump, who faced the charge of incitement of an insurrection. The five-term incumbent was one of 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment. 

Rice has defended his decision by pointing to Trump’s behavior and lack of leadership as rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Still, he was censured by the South Carolina GOP for his vote and he’s seen conservative candidates emerge to challenge him, including Horry County Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson, former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and media personality Graham Allen.

Like those candidates, Fry cited Rice’s impeachment vote as his motivation for challenging the congressman. He said he would not have voted to impeach Trump or supported the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

“I would have stood up for the district a lot more and weighed in on the issues of the day a lot more than our current leader,” he said.

Apart from Rice’s treatment of Trump, Fry said he disagrees with the congressman’s votes on the debt ceiling — he said he wants to see more cuts to government spending or spending limits — and he sees himself as a stronger advocate against the policies of President Joe Biden.

“They’re disastrous for our country,” he said. “From the economy to the border to COVID and everything in between, I think it’s very important for our elected leaders in Congress to stand up for the principles of the American people. And this kind of experiment in the Joe Biden administration is not working.”

When asked about specific Biden policies that he finds problematic, Fry said conservative states were better off relaxing COVID-19 restrictions before their blue state peers.

“It is the states and the federal government’s continued reliance on orders and shutdowns that have been problematic,” he said.

But Fry doesn’t differ from Rice in every way. Both men support constructing I-73, a proposed interstate that would link the Grand Strand with I-95.

“Funding’s obviously an issue,” Fry said. “But again, all three layers from the federal government to the state to the local have an obligation to that project. So I think that working together, coming up with a concrete plan now, moving past the permit challenges, are all ways in which that could happen.”

An attorney, Fry is campaigning on his legislative record, which includes supporting Second Amendment rights and anti-abortion policies. He’s also backed efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and human trafficking. If elected, Fry said he would be “an advocate for conservative policies in the mold of President Donald Trump.”

“I was born here, went to school here, raised my family here,” he said. “People know me. I’ve worked here and I’ve worked on behalf of these people in Columbia. I am confident in my record and confident that we’ll be competitive.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236


I'm the editor of and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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