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Democrat Could Take Open House Seat in SC

Image: Democrat Could Take Open House Seat in SC

Vincent Sheheen speaks to voters in Bishopville, S.C. (AP)

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Tuesday, 27 Dec 2016 07:28 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The special elections to fill the soon-to-be-vacant seats of Republican Reps. Tom Price, secretary of Health & Human Services, Ryan Zinke, secretary of the interior, and Mike Pompeo, CIA director, promise to be big news in 2017. But even the most optimistic Democrat would agree that there is zero chance of Democrats grabbing a position.

But it could be a different story in the fourth soon-to-be-open House seat — that of GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who was just named Office of Management and Budget director by President-elect Trump.

Signs are already strong that state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, two-time Democratic nominee for governor, will carry his party’s standard in the soon-to-be-called special election in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District.

Considered a centrist Democrat rather than a liberal, Sheheen, 45, drew 47 percent in the 2010 race for governor against Republican Nikki Haley (just appointed U.N. ambassador) and 43 percent against Haley in 2014.

“What's happened on the ground is that voters have been punishing Democrats for eight solid years — it's been exhausting," Sheheen recently told the Associated Press. "If I was talking about a local or state issue, voters would always lapse back into a national topic: Barack Obama."

Among Republicans, Al Simpson, Mulvaney’s longtime top aide, had been considered as sure the successor to his boss in Congress as Cardinal Ratzinger was to John Paul II as Pope in 2005. But on the day before Christmas, Simpson told me “I’m not going to do it.” He cited his recent move from Washington to South Carolina and that, with both children out of the house, “my wife and I are now empty nesters and want to spend more time together.”

With Simpson out, most Republicans in the Palmetto State’s 5th District focus on former state party Chairman Chad Connelly as the likely candidate. A stalwart conservative, Connelly got high marks from Republicans nationwide for his role in mobilizing pro-family voters behind the Trump-Pence ticket this year.

Reached at his family’s home over the weekend, Connelly told me he “is praying hard and looking at this race seriously.” He added he would make a decision on running soon.

Also seriously mentioned as a Republican candidate in the special election is State Rep. Ralph Norman, 63, who ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2006 against veteran Democratic Rep. John Spratt (who was ousted by Mulvaney in 2010).

The primary, run-off, and special election must all occur with 15 weeks following Mulvaney’s anticipated resignation. The resulting political fireworks will draw national attention.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 

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Sen. Vincent Sheheen, two-time Democratic nominee for governor, will carry his party’s standard in the soon-to-be-called special election in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District.
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2016-28-27
Tuesday, 27 Dec 2016 07:28 AM
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