Presidential election ties of SC’s Georgetown include heritage, controversy
But a second spotlight fixed on Georgetown as Romney campaigned to become the Republican presidential nominee and his ties to Bain and Georgetown Steel made headlines.
“It brought back old memories,” said Siau, who lost his job at Georgetown Steel – now reopened as ArcelorMittal Georgetown – more than a decade before Bain bought the steel mill but remains friends with many mill workers. “(The workers) never thought that someone who cut the company down would be up in politics trying to get someplace, you know?”
Not all in Georgetown County, once a Democratic bastion in Republican South Carolina, share that assessment.
The county has been trending Republican in recent elections – mostly because of the growth in the Waccamaw Neck area, north of the city of Georgetown between the Atlantic Ocean and the Waccamaw River. Romney’s supporters note that Georgetown Steel’s bankruptcy was not an isolated case. By 2002, more than two dozen U.S. steel companies were in bankruptcy protection, including titans Bethlehem Steel and National Steel.
“A lot of that was due to the cheap steel that was being produced outside of the United States,” said Jim Jerow, former chairman of the Georgetown Economic Development Commission and current chairman of the Georgetown Republican Party. “It became a competitive situation.”
‘Who would have guessed’
South Carolina is not a factor in the November presidential election.
The state’s nine electoral votes almost certainly will go to the Republican nominee – as they have in every election starting in 1980. No presidential candidate will campaign in the state. South Carolina’s two political parties are focusing on North Carolina instead, sending money and volunteers to that neighboring battleground state.
But Georgetown – with its roots to the first lady’s family and ties to one of the campaign’s loudest narratives, debating the merits and shortcomings of free enterprise – has a unique place in this presidential election.
Georgetown Steel opened in the late 1960s, founded by German entrepreneur Willy Korf.
It quickly became a major employer, giving Sam Wragg a good excuse to move back home. Wragg, who was born in Georgetown but left when he was 19, had lived in Minnesota
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