Claudia Lauer
Myrtle Beach Online
June 9, 2008

While no one agrees with everything a candidate for political office says, most people don’t respond by making threatening phone calls or breaking into the candidate’s house.

Mark Bennett, the 22-year-old running for S.C. House District 105 against three other Republicans, said he experienced some constituent hostility Saturday night, when he was the victim of three separate personal attacks including a break-in.

“I don’t know if they are all related, but I think it’s a big coincidence that after one, the others would happen,” the candidate said Sunday.

Bennett said after campaigning door to door Saturday, he met up with his wife, Anita, to go to dinner. As they were driving, just before 7:30 p.m., he received a call on his cell phone. A woman, who refused to identify herself, yelled at Bennett for 19 minutes over his stance on road improvement priorities in Horry County, he said. The last sentence the woman said to him was what really bothered the Bennetts, who were listening on the speaker phone.

“She said that she would hunt me down and yell at me in person and harm me in some way, and that she would make sure I was never elected to an office in Horry County,” Bennett said.

He and his wife went to dinner, but as he thought about it, Bennett said he decided talking to the police couldn’t hurt and filed a report at the Conway Police station while his wife went home. When his wife arrived at their Conway home, she found the front door had been kicked in.

“My wife called me while I was at the police station, and I sped home, followed by a police officer,” Bennett said. “Whoever it was, they didn’t take anything. The computer was there, the television was there, all my wife’s jewelry was there. They just left one of my campaign signs with a smiley face painted on it in the middle of the floor.”

Officials at the Conway Police Department confirmed Bennett filed an incident report for harassing phone calls and breaking-and-entering. Police said they did not know if the incidents were related.

“I mean, that’s intimidation, and it’s frightening. The thing is, Mark’s message is so spot on, he’s getting threats from people who disagree,” Matt Jarfi, a friend and campaign adviser to Bennett, said.

Bennett said he noticed Sunday morning that most of his political posters and signs were gone.

“If this is all related, then the weirdest thing to me is that the road-construction priorities are not something I would be able to change. They’re a county issue, and I’m running for a state office,” he said. “But this isn’t going to stop me from campaigning or from running.”

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