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Rick Wade To Challenge Tim Scott

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Democratic heavyweight Rick Wade will challenge U.S. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) in 2014, sources tell FITS – setting up a high-profile (and potentially historic) matchup in the Palmetto State’s “other” United States Senate contest.

Wade filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week – and if he and Scott earn their respective party’s nominations (as they are expected to do) it would set up the first all-black U.S. Senate race in recent memory.

Maybe ever …

“A Scott-Wade matchup would allow South Carolina to see a campaign unlike any it — and few if any other states — has ever seen: a bonafide race for U.S. Senate between two African-American candidates,” liberal columnist Warren Bolton wrote earlier this year.

Richland County, S.C. councilwoman Joyce Dickerson – another black Democrat – has said she’s running against Scott in 2014, but she’s not viewed as a credible candidate.

Wade? He’s a Democratic national committeeman with extensive corporate and government experience – including a senior post in Barack Obama’s U.S. Commerce Department. An early supporter of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Wade is expected to receive extensive national support in his effort to unseat Scott – who was appointed to his post a year ago by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.

Democrats in South Carolina have had trouble attracting credible candidates to run for office against “Republicans.” Wade – a native of Lancaster, S.C. – breaks that trend in a big way. After graduating from the University of South Carolina he earned a master’s degree from Harvard – and has held staff positions in gubernatorial administrations as well as on top legislative committees at the S.C. State House.

RICK WADE

RICK WADE

This won’t be Wade’s first bid for elected office. In 2002 he was handily defeated by Republican Mark Hammond in the race for S.C. Secretary of State – although at that point he had yet to build a national network of supporters.

We don’t expect Wade to defeat Scott – who has been rock solid on free market issues during his first year in the U.S. Senate – but we do expect him to mount a credible challenge.

We also expect Wade – who helped lead Obama’s 2008 minority turnout effort – to help mobilize black voters in a big way in 2014. That could pay dividends for Democrats up and down the ticket next year – especially S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

Sheheen ran a closer-than-expected race in 2010 against “Republican” Gov. Nikki Haley, and high black turnout could provide him with a critical edge.

Anyway, for more on Wade, check out this recent biographical sketch prepared by the University of South Carolina alumni association …

RICK WADE BIO (.pdf)