Who's leading in the First District race?

The last time a Democratic candidate won the First Congressional District was 1978. Since that time, only one time has seen a candidate even come close - Linda Ketner who ran a surprisingly strong 48% against outgoing Congressman Henry Brown. Given this history, it seems unlikely for Democrats to have a chance at winning what is one of the longest continually-held GOP districts in the Carolinas. Only South Carolina's Second District and the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Ninth District have been in GOP hands longer.

Thus it seems likely that the race to replace Henry Brown will be decided with the GOP nomination.

In assessing the race, State Representive Tim Scott and Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond seem to be emerging as the leaders in the race for the all-important GOP nod for the seat.

While several candidates were in the race prior to Congressman Brown's surprise decision to not seek re-election, most notably Carroll "Tumpy" (someone hates when we call him that) Campbell - who never hesitates to remind everyone of this - Scott and Thurmond both changed their political plans to jump into the race after Brown's announcement.

Both are veteran politicos:

  • Scott was first elected to Charleston County Council in 1995 and scored a first-round win in a three-candidate primary field two years ago for a North Area State House seat.
  • Thurmond won his Council seat four years ago, showing many of the campaign and constituent relations techniques his father - Senator Strom Thurmond - used in his political career, while scrupulously avoiding waving the family name around during the course of his candidacy.

Although all nine of the GOP candidates have been working hard across the district, Scott and Thurmond have begun to pull together campaigns that are rivaling the others. Scott has built a large following of active supporters who show up at events around the district and drawn support from national conservative activist groups, as well as announced an impressive roster of business supporters, while Thurmond has landed the endorsements from a number of Lowcountry GOP politicos, including two former First District congressmen - Arthur Ravenel and Tommy Hartnett.

By contrast, the other candidates seem to be struggling to match the fundraising and endorsement successes of Scott and Thurmond - key challenges in winning the short, but furious, sprint for the First District seat.

However, it's worth noting that stumbles do happen in the First, as in 1994, when Bob Harrell (father of House Speaker Bobby Harrell) slipped from his long-held second place position in the GOP field in the closing weeks of the primary race for the 1st District seat, allowing Mark Sanford, who had consistenly trailed Harrell and the three other "heavyweights" in the race, former SCGOP Chair Van Hipp, State Senator Mike Rose and former Judge Mendel Rivers Jr. (son of the long-time 1st District representative), to squeeze out a second place finish in the primary, and upset Van Hipp in the run-off .

If there is a stumble, a candidate who has saved their resources to focus on picking off undecideds in the home stretch could have a shot at placing in the top two, as it's hard to see this race not heading for a run-off in late June.

However, time is clearly running out for the other candidates to emerge as viable candidates for the soon-to-be-decided GOP nomination. If they don't, don't be suprised to see Scott and Thurmond lead the pack for the nomination in this year's First District contest.

1 Response to "Who's leading in the First District race?"

  1. DanielC in SC 11/5/10 15:35
    WoW Earl - we run in really different circles let me tell you.

    Thurmond - running on name alone will not get it. The responses I get after talking to folks (not GOP Regs) is the name ain't getting the vote and the strong stance against term limitation was the nail in the coffin comment - not once but twice. Now however you side with that stance is a personal issue, but it really has my circles looking else where...

    No shout out to the only real Constitutional Candidate: Larry Kobrovsky?

    And then you have many favorable comments about Mark Lutz floating in the crowds.

    Maybe you should get out of Charleston more? *salute*


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