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GOP keeps South Carolina U.S. House seat with vastly decreased margin

Republican Ralph Norman defeats Democrat Archie Parnell by just 3 points

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CFP) — Republican Ralph Norman has won the special election for South Carolina’s 5th District U.S. House seat, but Democrat Archie Parnell managed to trim more than 17 points from the GOP’s 2016 margin despite getting little support from Democrats nationally.

U.S. Rep.-Elect Ralph Norman, R-South Carolina

With all of the precincts reporting in the June 20 vote, Norman, a former state representative, won 51.1 percent to 47.9 percent for Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs executive making his first run for political office.

That 3.2-point margin showed a marked deterioration in Republican support since the November election. President Trump won the district by 19 points in 2016, while Mick Mulvaney, who gave up the seat to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, won by nearly 21 points.

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.

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 favored to win after dispatching State Rep. Tommy Pope in May’s Republican primary runoff.

Archie Parnell, D-Congressional candidate

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.

While Parnell’s long-shot campaign won enthusiasm from South Carolina Democrats, the national party and Democratic leaning outside groups largely avoided the 5th District race, concentrating their firepower instead on a House runoff in Georgia, held the same day, that was considered more winnable.

Parnell also had the endorsement of John Spratt, the Democrat who held the seat for 28 years before being ousted by Mulvaney in the Republican wave of 2010.

Norman’s win, along with a win by Republican Karen Handel in the Georgia 6th District runoff, means Republicans have successfully defended all four of the House seats that became vacant when their occupants were appointed to positions in the Trump administration. The other elections were in Kansas and Montana.


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