Autry Benton out of Conway City Council race. Will run against Senator Luke Rankin.

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

The campaign of Conway City Councilman Autry Benton announced Friday that he will run for a state senate seat instead of running for the Conway City Council.

A press release was forwarded to our news office today.

Benton was elected to council in a special election earlier this year after former councilman Alex Hyman resigned to take a judgeship.

Benton announced his withdrawal in a press release Friday, saying he had notified the county’s voter registration office and the City of Conway.

I decided not to seek reelection to Conway City Council after much personal reflection, prayer, and discussions with my wife and children.” Benton wrote.

There is a lack of road infrastructure in the area, Benton said, adding the solution lies in Columbia.

I will be filing as a Republican candidate for the S.C. Senate District 33 office when filing opens in March 2024,” he wrote.

Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Horry), who has served in public office since 1993, holds the District 33 seat currently.

Until his term ends on Dec. 31st, Benton plans to remain on city council.


Benton’s decision now leaves the Conway City Council race wide open for Kendal Brown. Benton won the special election over Brown in a runoff by a tight margin.


Conway City Council Race
Kendall Brown now a shoe in to win the Conway City Council race in November 2023

Benton pulled out of the Conway city council race after the filing deadline. This means new candidates can not file for the vacancy now left by Benton. This practically assures Brown a seat on City Council.

Can Benton move his campaign funds from City Council to a State Senate Race?

A few key contributors to the Benton for Conway City Council campaign reached out to MyrtleBeachSC News today. One key donor informed us he believed Benton has raised $30,000 in campaign contributions from residents who wanted to ensure his seat on the Conway City Council.

Questions remain as to what the process of Benton moving those campaign dollars to a State Senate race would look like. The monies were collected on the promise that Benton would advocate for good government in the city of Conway.


We reached out to JJ Gentry, of the South Carolina State Ethics Commission with the following questions:

Dear  JJ Gentry,

Conway City Councilman Autry Benton is choosing to drop out of the Conway city council race this Fall and instead run for SC Senate District 33.  

I am told he has collected over $30,000 in campaign contributions for his city council race.

Can he move those funds to his Senate office run?  

Will he need to contact his donors?

What does that process look like?

We are writing an article about his run and need these details.

I did leave voicemail on your phone as well.  Look forward to hearing from you. 


David Hucks

The Commission Responded: A candidate can move those funds from one race to another, however, they must have permission from the contributors who gave to do so. They must have individual written and signed permission letters from each of the donors to move those funds.

They then must provide copies of those letters to the Senate Ethics Commission.

Candidates must start with the last contribution made and work their way backwards. Donors can only contribute the $1,000 limit. If those campaign funds are moved, the original donor can not also then give an additional $1,000 to the candidate’s senate run.


Phil Render, current Myrtle Beach City Councilman, is also stated to be running for the S.C. Senate 33 seat, per those close to Myrtle Beach City Government.

MyrtleBeachSC News reached out to John Gallman who is widely considered to be the frontrunner for this seat across the state of South Carolina. Gallman declined to give any specifics, but he did say that he believes James Chapter 1, verse 8, “double minded people are unstable in all their ways“. Gallman added, “When I do make a declaration, my yes will be a yes and my no will be a no.”

While Gallman did not comment on his run, one thing is for sure, Gallman will play a key role in determining who the next Senator in District 33 will be. Gallman did say, “I want the fine folks of Horry County and South Carolina to know – the best is yet to come.

Luke Rankin plans to seek re-election, by all accounts.

It is likely that other candidates will enter this race, as Senator Luke Rankin is said to be politically damaged for this cycle. Judicial Reform is central to this race and Rankin heads the Senate Judiciary.


As SC Attorney General, Alan Wilson, SC Governor Henry McMaster, 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, and Democrat Senator Dick Harpootlian have all stated, Judicial Reform is one of the paramount issues for the State of S.C. Rankin has been highly criticized for his efforts as Senate Judiciary Chairman.

As to another key issue, says April Oleary, of Horry County Rising, “We need someone in Columbia helping fix our flooded roads. Most of the culverts under state roads are undersized and either flooding homes or washing out and too many of them flood when the Waccamaw River rises. The state’s design regulations are substandard and we should build our roads to a higher standard.

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