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South Carolina congressional candidate Katie Arrington seriously injured in car wreck

Accident comes 10 days after Arrington toppled U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in GOP primary

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPoitics.com editor

CHARLESTON (CFP) — State Rep. Katie Arrington, the Republican nominee in South Carolina’s 1st U.S. House District, was seriously injured in a car accident Friday night that left one person dead and another critically injured.

State Rep. Katie Arrington, R-South Carolina

According to messages posted on Arrington’s Twitter feed, she was a passenger in a car that was struck by a wrong way driver on U.S. 17 south of Charleston.

The driver of the other car was killed; the driver of the car in which Arrington was driving, Jacqueline Goff, a friend of Arrington’s from Louisiana, was reported in critical condition by the Post and Courier of Charleston.

Arrington was on her way to Hilton Head Island where she was to have received an award from a state medical organization Saturday morning.

Arrington suffered a broken back, several broken ribs and underwent surgery to remove a portion of her small intestine and colon, according to her Twitter feed. She also had a stent placed in the main artery in one of her legs that had collapsed.

Additional surgeries will be required, and Arrington is expected to be hospitalized for two weeks at Medical University Hospital in Charleston.

Arrington’s Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham, announced he was suspending his campaign “until further notice.” He asked his Twitter followers to lift “her and her family up in prayer.”

Just 10 days before the accident, Arrington, 47, from Summerville, won the 1st District nomination by defeating incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford. The race drew national attention because Sanford had been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, who endorsed Arrington on election day.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that his “thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families.”

Sanford also extended his condolence on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers this morning go to Katie Arrington, her family and those involved in last night’s automobile accident.”

The 1st District includes metro Charleston and the Lowcountry along the Atlantic Coast.

South Carolina Primary: U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford defeated; McMaster, Warren advance to GOP governor’s runoff

Democrat Archie Parnell survives 5th District U.S. House primary despite spouse abuse revelations

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLESTON (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford has become the second incumbent to go down in a primary this year, losing the GOP nomination for his Lowcountry seat after President Donald Trump tweeted a last-minute endorsement of his opponent.

In another key race in the June 12 primary, Governor Henry McMaster secured a runoff spot and will now face John Warren, a Greenville businessman and Iraq war veteran making his first run for political office.

In the 5th U.S. House District, Democrat Archie Parnell advanced to the general election, despite pleas from party leaders to get out of the race over revelations about spousal abuse from four decades ago.

And upstate, in the 4th District, where 12 Republicans were fighting for spots in the runoff, former State Senator Lee Bright from Spartanburg snagged one spot, with State Senator William Timmons from Greenville holding on to second place by a narrow margin in unofficial results.

Sanford

Arrington

In the 1st U.S. House District, which includes Charleston and the Lowcountry along the Atlantic Coast, State Rep. Katie Arrington from Summerville took 51 percent to 46 percent for Sanford, who has held the seat since 2013.

She will now face Democrat Joe Cunningham, a Charleston attorney who swept to an easy victory in the Democratic primary with 71 percent of the vote.

Sanford’s demise could be good news for Cunningham, who will now be competing in an open seat against a lesser known, more conservative candidate. He has also raised more than $500,000 in a bid to flip the 1st District seat.

Trump loomed large in the GOP primary, with Arrington taking aim at Sanford for his previous critical comments about the president. Then, on election day, Trump administered the coup de grace on his Twitter feed: “Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina.”

The final sentence is a reference to a 2009 episode in which Sanford, then governor of South Carolina, disappeared for several days after telling the media he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, while he was actually out of the country with a Argentinian woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

Sanford has been one of the few Republicans in Congress to speak out against Trump, calling his behavior in office “weird,” criticizing Trump’s disparagement of Haiti and countries in Africa and calling his policy of imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum “an experiment with stupidity.”

In a concession speech before supporters in Mount Pleasant, Sanford stood by the criticisms that may have cost him his job.

“It may have cost me an election, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president because I didn’t think they would be concurrent with the promises I made when I first ran for office and for the very voices of the people of the 1st District that I represent,” he said.

Sanford had never previously been defeated in a career that stretches back to his first election to the U.S. House in 1994 and includes two terms as governor.

The only other incumbent House member to fall this year so far was North Carolina’s U.S. Robert Pittenger. However, Alabama U.S. Rep. Martha Roby was forced in a July runoff against a challenger who made an issue of her decision to rescind her endorsement of Trump after the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced in October 2016, in which he bragged about groping women.

Warren

McMaster

In the governor’s race, McMaster — who inherited the office last year when former Governor Nikki Haley became UN ambassador — took 45 percent of the vote to 22 percent for Warren, who edged out Catherine Templeton, a Mount Pleasant attorney who served in two state executive positions under Haley.

The winner will face State Rep. James Smith from Columbia, who won the Democratic nomination outright with 62 percent of the vote. Florence lawyer Marguerite Willis came in second with 27 percent, while Phil Noble, a Charleston business consultant who was an adviser to former President Barack Obama, came in third with 22 percent.

Democrats have not won a governor’s race in the Palmetto State in 20 years.

McMaster — the first statewide elected official to endorse President Trump in 2016 — was boosted by a tweeted endorsement from the president. Warren was the dark horse in the race, putting in more than $3 million of his own money to be financially competitive with McMaster and Templeton.

Templeton had touted her connections with Haley and campaigned against what she called a “good ol’ boy” network running South Carolina politics — a shot at McMaster, who has been in state politics for more than 20 years. But in the end, she could not hold off a charge by Warren, who cast himself as the “conservative outsider” in the race.

In the 5th District, which stretches from the Columbia suburbs north toward Charlotte, Parnell took 60 percent, surviving a Democratic primary against three little-known challengers after divorce records came to light three weeks before the primary revealing that he physically abused his first wife in the 1970s.

Norman

Parnell

Democratic leaders have urged Parnell to quit, but he has refused. He will now face Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman in November.

In a special election last year to fill the seat vacated when Mick Mulvaney became Trump’s budget director, Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs executive, shocked the political world by coming in just 2 points behind Norman in a district Trump carried by 19 points in 2016.

Based on the closeness of the special election, Parnell has raised more than $3.6 million for the rematch, putting him in the top 20 nationally among House candidates. But the abuse allegations likely extinguished any hope Democrats had of defeating Norman and flipping the seat.

Norman drew national headlines in April when he pulled out a loaded gun during a meeting with gun control advocates at a local diner. The incident came less than two months after the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Norman defended his actions, saying he was “tired of guns being demonized.”

Upstate in the 4th District, which includes Greenville and Spartanburg, Bright, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in a GOP primary in 2014, took 25 percent to secure a runoff spot for the seat being given up by the retiring U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.

Timmons was in second place with 19 percent, but he was only 350 votes ahead of State Rep. Dan Hamilton, also from Greenville, so news organizations did not make an immediate call for the second spot in the runoff.

Democrats in the district will also decide a runoff between Doris Lee Turner, a Greenville tax accountant, who took 29 percent, and Brandon Brown, a college administrator from Greenville, who took 28 percent.

South Carolina primary: Governor Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford try to keep their jobs

Democrats in 5th U.S. House District will decide fate of Archie Parnell after spouse abuse revelations

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

CHARLESTON (CFP) — Governor Henry McMaster and two of his GOP opponents will jockey for runoff spots in South Carolina’s Republican primary Tuesday, while U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford will try to hang on to his seat against a Republican primary challenger who has made his critical comments about President Donald Trump an issue in the race.

Republicans in the 4th U.S. House District will also cull down a staggering field of 12 candidates vying for the party’s nomination for an open seat, while in the 5th District, Democrat Archie Parnell will find out if his own party will abandon him over revelations about spousal abuse from four decades ago.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In the governor’s race, recent polling shows McMaster — who inherited the office last year when Nikki Haley became UN ambassador — appears likely to snag one of the top two runoff spots but fall short of the outright majority he needs to avoid a runoff.

Warren

Templeton

McMaster

The chase for the second spot is between Catherine Templeton, a Mount Pleasant attorney who served in two state executive positions under Haley, and John Warren, a Greenville businessman and Iraq war veteran making his first run for political office.

McMaster and Templeton have both been competing for the imprimatur of the popular Haley, who appointed Templeton to head both the state health and labor departments and served for two years with McMaster as lieutenant governor before leaving for New York.

Haley, who is barred by federal law from getting involved in partisan political campaigns while serving in the executive branch, has remained neutral. But on her campaign website, Templeton features a quote from Haley calling Templeton a “great professional who hasn’t just been good at anything, she’s been great at everything.”

Warren has become the dark horse in the race, putting in more than $3 million of his own money to be financially competitive with McMaster and Templeton.

The Democratic governor’s race also appears headed to a runoff, with three candidates bunched together in pre-election polls. The field includes State Rep. James Smith from Columbia, Phil Noble, a Charleston business consultant who was an adviser to former President Barack Obama, and Marguerite Willis, a Florence lawyer and wife of former longtime Florence Mayor Frank Willis.

The two two finishers in both races will compete in June 26 runoffs. Also for the first time this year, candidates for governor have selected running mates for lieutenant governor, rather than having the office elected independently.

Katie Arrington

Mark Sanford

In the 1st U.S. House District, which includes Charleston and the Lowcountry along the Atlantic Coast, Sanford is facing a strong primary challenge from Republican State Rep. Katie Arrington, who has made Sanford’s previous comments about Trump an issue.

Sanford has been one of the few Republicans in Congress to speak out against the president, calling his behavior in office “weird,” criticizing Trump’s disparagement of Haiti and countries in Africa and calling his policy of imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum “an experiment with stupidity.”

In an era in which anti-establishment outsiders often have the upper hand, Sanford is also a consummate insider, having served 14 years in the House and two terms as governor.

However, Sanford has also proven himself a political survivor, battling his way back to Congress in 2012 after his second term as governor spiraled down in scandal amid public revelations about an extramarital affair with an Argentinian lover.

In one of her ads, Arrington directly alluded to the scandal: “Bless his heart, but it’s time for Mark Sanford to take a hike — for real this time,” a reference to a lie Sanford told to the media that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was actually out of the country with his paramour.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face Democrat Joe Cunningham, a Charleston attorney who has raised more than $500,000 in a bid to flip the 1st District seat.

Archie Parnell

In the 5th District, which stretches from the Columbia suburbs north toward Charlotte, Parnell is now trying to a survive a Democratic primary that had once looked like a sure thing, after divorce records came to light three weeks ago revealing that he physically abused his first wife in the 1970s.

Democratic leaders have urged Parnell to quit, but he refused. He faces three little-known candidates — one of whom is a professional circus clown — which should insure Parnell at least a place in a runoff if he can’t win the nomination outright.

In a special election last year to fill the seat vacated when Mick Mulvaney became Trump’s budget director, Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs executive, shocked the political world by coming in just 2 points behind Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, in a district Trump carried by 19 points in 2016.

Based on the closeness of the special election, Parnell raised more than $3.6 million for the rematch, putting him in the top 20 nationally among House candidates. But the abuse allegations probably extinguished any hopes Democrats had of defeating Norman and flipping the seat.

Norman drew national headlines in April when he pulled out a loaded gun during a meeting with gun control advocates at a local diner. The incident came less than two months after the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Norman defended his actions, saying he was “tired of guns being demonized.”

Upstate in the 4th District, which includes Greenville and Spartanburg, 12 Republicans are running for the seat being given up by the retiring U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, virtually ensuring a runoff.

Among the competitors are former State Senator Lee Bright from Spartanburg, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in a GOP primary in 2014; State Senator William Timmons from Greenville; Josh Kimbrell, a Christian radio host from Spartanburg; and State Rep. Dan Hamilton from Greenville.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, five candidates are competing for runoff spots including Brandon Brown, a college administrator from Greenville; J.T. Davis, a Simpsonville businessman; Eric Graben, a Greenville attorney; Will Morin from Greenville, a former trainer for the U.S. Olympic luge team; and Lee Turner, a Greenville tax accountant.

Democratic leaders urge South Carolina U.S. House candidate to withdraw over past spousal abuse

Archie Parnell, who nearly won an upset in a 2017 special election, had been favored to win party’s nomination in 5th District

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CFP) — Democrat Archie Parnell, who came out of nowhere to nearly win a ruby red South Carolina House seat in 2017, is being urged by Democratic leaders to withdraw from June 12 primary in the 5th District, after divorce records revealed that he abused his first wife in the 1970s.

Archie Parnell, D-Congressional candidate

The revelations, first reported by The Post and Courier in Charleston, may have extinguished Democrats’ somewhat distant hopes of flipping a Republican seat in the Palmetto State in 2018.

The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have both called on Parnell to pull out of the race, and his campaign manager resigned, telling The Post and Courier that Parnell “has no business running for Congress, and he never did.”

Parnell has so far resisted calls to step aside. However, in a statement given to The Post and Courier, he acknowledged that he had been “violent” with his first wife, from whom he was divorced in 1974.

“Forty-five years ago, while still a college student, I did something that I have regretted every single day since. In response to actions I feel unnecessary to specify, I lashed out and became violent with other people, including my former wife, which led to a divorce and monumental change in my life,” he said. “These actions were inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing.”

“Since then, my life has been changed by a remarkable woman, two amazing daughters, a forgiving God and a career that has taught me to cherish what I have,” he said.

Parnell’s divorce records were first obtained by his campaign manager, Yates Baroody, who resigned after confronting Parnell with the information they contained.

According to the Post and Courier, the records detail an incident in which Parnell used a tire iron to break a glass door of an apartment where his then wife, Kathleen, had sought protection from him, then struck her several times. At the time, he was a student at the University of South Carolina.

Kathleen Parnell got a restraining order and filed for divorce, which was finalized in 1974, according to The Post and Courier.

Parnell, 67, from Sumter, is a tax attorney and former Goldman Sachs executive. In 2017, he ran in a special election in the 5th District, which takes in the north central part of the state, stretching along the I-77 corridor from the suburbs of Charlotte down to near Columbia.

The seat became vacant when Mick Mulvaney gave it up to become President Trump’s budget director. And although Trump won the district by 19 points in 2016, as Mulvaney was cruising to a 20-point win, Parnell showed surprising strength, coming within 4 points of defeating Republican Ralph Norman, who had been heavily favored.

After Parnell decided on a rematch with Norman in 2018, the DCCC added the 5th District race to its target list, and he was considered the prohibitive favorite in the primary against three little-known opponents, one of whom is a professional circus clown.

Even if Parnell withdraws from the race, state officials have said it is too late to remove his name from the ballot, although Democrats may be able to pick a substitute candidate if Parnell wins and then steps aside.

South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy bowing out of Congress

Gowdy, chair of the House Oversight Committee, won’t seek re-election in 2018

WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who drew national attention for leading a congressional investigation into the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, has announced he is retiring from Congress after four terms.

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina

In a January 31 statement announcing his departure, Gowdy, a former federal and state prosecutor, said he planned to return to work in the criminal justice system, although he gave no specifics.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” the Republican lawmaker said in his statement. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”

“The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time and a season for all things. There is a time to start and a time to end. There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system.”

Gowdy, who was named chairman of the House Oversight Committee last summer, becomes the eighth Republican committee chair overall, and the sixth Southern chair, to forgo a re-election bid this year.

His election will open up a seat in South Carolina’s 4th District, in metro Greenville-Spartanburg. The district is solidly Republican, so Gowdy’s successor is likely to be picked in the June primary. Filing for office begins March 30.

Gowdy, 53, was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010. He quickly rose to prominence after former House Speaker John Boehner appointed him to head a special investigative committee that looked into a terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

The most lasting impact from that investigation was the disclosure that than-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had used a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, an issue which dogged her throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

Gowdy joins a growing list of Southern House committee chairs who are leaving Congress, which includes Jeb Hensarling of Texas, chair of the Financial Services Committee; Diane Black of Tennessee, chair of the House Budget Committee, who is running for governor; Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Joe Barton of Texas, chair of the House Energy Commitee; and Gregg Harper of Mississippi, chair of the House Administration Committee.

So far, 15 Southern House Republicans have announced they won’t seek re-election in 2018, including six from Texas and two each from Tennessee and Florida. Only two Southern Democrats aren’t running, both in Texas.

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.

South Carolina U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy picked to head powerful oversight panel

Gowdy will head House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who gained national prominence for his dogged investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, has been selected to be the new chair of the House committee charged with investigating the executive branch.

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina

Gowdy was selected June 8 by the Republican Steering Committee to chair the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, replacing U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who is resigning from Congress.

“Oversight is constitutionally authorized and important to ensure branch integrity and equilibrium,” Gowdy said in a statement after his selection. “I look forward to working alongside the other committee members, as well as any member of Congress, as we discharge the jurisdiction assigned to us.”

Gowdy, 52, a former federal and state prosecutor in South Carolina, is in his fourth term representing the state’s 4th District, which includes the Greenville-Spartanburg metro area.

After four Americans died in a terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012, Gowdy was appointed by House GOP leaders to head a special committee to investigate the attack.

The primary target of that probe was Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack. Gowdy’s investigation eventually led to the disclosure that Clinton had used a private email server, which prompted an FBI investigation and dogged her throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

After Donald Trump defeated Clinton, House Republicans shut down the Benghazi committee.

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