FIELD FIRMING UP …

Last month we did a post on the prospective field for South Carolina’s fifth congressional district – which could soon find itself without a representative in the event Mick Mulvaney is confirmed as U.S. president-elect Donald Trump‘s budget director (news of that appointment broke exclusively on this website, by the way).

Mulvaney’s ascension to this key White House post would trigger a special election for his congressional seat, and there’s no shortage of candidates lining up to fill the void.

Already moving full speed ahead with their campaigns are former SCGOP chairman Chad Connelly (above) and S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman – who ran unsuccessfully for this seat in 2006 against longtime Democratic congressman John Spratt.

A third candidate – Indian Land, S.C. attorney Kris Wampler – has also announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination.

Connelly has reportedly secured some backing from key conservative activists (and party stalwarts), while Norman has retained Lexington, S.C.-based consultant Walter Whetsell to run his campaign.

Meanwhile, newly-elected S.C. House majority leader Gary Simrill – who was viewed by many as the frontrunner for this post – has opted against running.

“My priority was to seek the place I could be the most effective for the citizens of York County and our state as a whole,” Simrill told reporter Andrew Dys of The Rock Hill Herald. “Right now, that doesn’t involve me going to Congress.”

That makes sense.  Simrill is quickly climbing the ranks within the S.C. General Assembly – with many believing he could wind up as Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives in a few years.

That’s arguably the most powerful elected office in the entire state of South Carolina – although in recent years fiscally liberal S.C. Senator Hugh Leatherman has consolidated several leadership positions in the State Senate, making him the most powerful Palmetto politician.

On the Democratic side, the field is less settled.

Former vice-presidential aide Fran Person is rumored to be running again, but his much-ballyhooed candidacy against Mulvaney last year was a decided dud.

The fifth district (map) covers the northern central portion of the state (including the booming suburbs of Charlotte, N.C.).  The district has been reliably Republican since it was redrawn prior to the 2012 elections, with Mulvaney trouncing Person by more than 20 percentage points in the most recent race.

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