- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tuesday’s primary to pick a replacement for Mick Mulvaney doesn’t have the drama of the special congressional elections in Kansas and Georgia, where money poured in for candidates vying to replace lawmakers leaving Congress to serve in the Trump administration.

But the race to fill South Carolina’s 5th District seat, vacated by Mulvaney’s confirmation as White House budget director, has drawn 14 candidates and is emblematic of how contentious politics has become in the Trump era.

The seat was controlled by Democrats for more than 100 years before the tea party wave of 2010 that swept in Mulvaney. Republicans say their hold on the seat during Mulvaney’s tenure - coupled with Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the district by more than 18 percent - shows a trend toward conservatism in this deeply red state.

Seven Republicans and three Democrats are running in Tuesday’s primary. A candidate must garner 50 percent of the vote plus one to win his or her party’s primary. If either party has no outright winner, a runoff will be held May 16.

The primary winners will then join four third-party contenders in a June 20 general election.

The eventual winner would be in office for about 18 months before facing re-election in 2018.


- Tommy Pope, House speaker pro tem. The former prosecutor previously said he planned to run for governor in 2018 but switched to Congress once Mulvaney was nominated. As a solicitor in the 1990s, Pope rose to nationwide fame for his case against a Union County mother now serving a life sentence for killing her two sons by rolling her car into a lake. Pope has the support of dozens of current prosecutors, sheriffs and other law officers.

- Chad Connelly. After two terms leading South Carolina’s GOP, the Prosperity native served as the faith engagement initiative director for the Republican National Committee, traveling the country rallying activists to help register and mobilize conservative, faith-based voters. He has endorsements from Christian conservatives like James Dobson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as well as U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, who heads up the Freedom Caucus in Congress.

- Sheri Few. A former member of South Carolina’s GOP Executive Committee, the abstinence-only, anti-Common Core activist from Lugoff founded South Carolina Parents Involved in Education to join with other public school parents concerned with increased federal role in education and the added emphasis on testing and data collection. She managed U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign in South Carolina. Few lost the GOP primary for education superintendent in 2014.

- Ralph Norman. Norman resigned his state House seat to concentrate on his campaign amid the growing field, meaning there’s also a special election going on to fill his legislative seat. It isn’t the Rock Hill real estate developer’s first go at the 5th District; Norman lost to incumbent John Spratt in 2006.

- Tom Mullikan. The Camden native is an attorney, specializing in global environmental policy. Mullikan is also a former U.S. Army JAG officer is the current commander of the all-volunteer South Carolina State Guard. He’s been touting his support of President Trump’s polices and has said Trump’s outsider win inspired him to consider running for office himself.

- Ray Craig. Craig, who does ministerial and nonprofit work in Lake Wylie, unsuccessfully challenged Mulvaney in the 2016 GOP primary, calling the incumbent too conservative for the district.

- Kris Wampler. The Charlotte attorney lives in Lake Wylie and practices family law.


- Archie Parnell. The former Goldman Sachs tax adviser and Capitol Hill lawyer from Sumter has posted the highest fundraising figures among the Democratic contenders, bringing in nearly a quarter-million dollars in the first month of his campaign, mostly in donations of $100 or less. Tax reform and job creation are among his top priorities. Parnell is endorsed by South Carolina’s two most recent democratic governors, Jim Hodges and Dick Riley, as well as Spratt.

- Alexis Frank. Frank, an Army veteran married to an active-duty Marine, previously worked as a paralegal in an Army JAG legal affairs office. She lives in Rock Hill and lists education reform as among her top issues.

- Les Murphy. Murphy, a disabled Marine veteran, founded Carolina Veterans Commission, a faith-based nonprofit that connects veterans to housing, professional development and educational opportunities. He’s also worked as a human resources manager at Lowes Home Improvement and lives in Indian Land.


They’re not in the mix until the June general election, but there are also four third-party candidates vying for the 5th District seat: Bill Bledsoe (Constitution); Victor Kocher (Libertarian); David Kulma (Green); and Josh Thornton (American).


Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard .

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