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GOP primary in South Carolina U.S. House special election heads to a runoff

Winner of Republican contest will face Democrat Archie Parnell in June 20 election for Mick Mulvaney’s former House seat

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

YORK, South Carolina (CFP) — State legislators Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman survived a crowded Republican field in the battle for South Carolina’s vacant 5th District U.S. House seat and will now face off in a May 16 runoff, with the winner facing Democrat Archie Parnell on June 20.



Pope narrowly edged out Norman in the first round of voting on May 2, with each taking about 30 percent of the vote against five other competitors. Parnell took 71 percent of the vote against two competitors in the Democratic primary, avoiding a runoff.

Given the district’s strong Republican lean, the winner of the GOP runoff will be considered a heavy favorite to capture the seat, which Mick Mulvaney gave up to become director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration.


However, Parnell, who spend 20 years as a managing director at investment giant Goldman Sachs, brings a personal fortune to the race. He also has the endorsement of John Spratt, the Democrat who held this seat for 28 years before being ousted by Mulvaney in the Republican wave of 2010.

The 5th District takes in the north central part of the state, stretching along the I-77 corridor from the suburbs of Charlotte down to near Columbia.

Pope, 54, from York, is best known as the prosecutor in the trial of Susan Smith, who was convicted in 1995 of drowning her two young sons after first claiming they had been carjacked by a black man. He has served in the state House since 2010, rising to the position of speaker pro tempore in 2014.

Norman, 63, is a real estate developer from Rock Hill who served two stints in the state House, first from 2005 to 2007 and then from 2009 until he resigned to run for Mulvaney’s seat. He was the unsuccessful Republican nominee against Spratt in 2006.

Parnell, 66, from Sumter, is a South Carolina native who is currently a senior adviser to Goldman Sachs after working there as a managing director for 20 years. He is also a former tax attorney for ExxonMobil and worked in Washington as senior counsel for a House committee from 1976 to 1980.

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