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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.

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, Chickenfriedpolitics.com 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

Norman

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.

Parnell

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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