Tom Rice making big transition from County Council to Congress

Horry County Council chairman Tom Rice defeated CCU economics instructor Gloria Bromell Tinubu Tuesday, to become South Carolina's first representative in the new 7th Congressional district.

One of the first tasks for Rice and his wife, Wrenzie, will be finding a place to live in Washington.

It's a big transition for someone who, not that long ago, was brand new to politics.

A little more than four years ago, Rice was a fairly low-profile Myrtle Beach tax attorney who headed an anti-bike rally group called Take Back May (

"I had no political aspirations at that time," Rice said today. "I was just trying to help the community."

But Rice says his work with Take Back May got him interested in politics.

Two years later, he was elected Horry County Council chairman, and now, two years after that, he's headed to Washington, DC.

"We'll have to hire some staff, set up offices here in the district. There's a lot of work to be done," Rice said.

There will be many weeks of training ahead for Rice in how to be a first-term Congressman.

Rice says it's a huge deal that, for the first time in decades, the Grand Strand and Pee Dee areas will have their own representative in the nation's capital.

"I think this district has been ignored for decades. We've been the tail end of three districts and we haven't gotten the attention we need and we're lagging in infrastructure and that's one of the main reasons why we're lagging in jobs."

Rice added that helping create jobs in his district will be his top priority, along with helping Congress deal with a looming budget crisis.

For too long, Rice says, Congress and the president have been kicking the can down the road, instead of finding long-term budget solutions.

"They're constantly bickering over the same thing every six months or a year. And it's totally unproductive, wastes a lot of time and money," Rice said. "Another thing is, businesses can't plan because they don't know what the rules are going to be."

Rice says he plans to spend about half his time here in the 7th district and the other half in Washington. He said he hasn't even tried looking for a place to live in D.C. He says first, he wanted to make sure he got the job.

The 113th session of Congress is scheduled to begin January 6, when it will meet to count the electoral votes for president.