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Poll: Tommy Pope Leads Fifth District Field




S.C. Speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope is among the more influential members of the Palmetto State’s House of Representatives – and a likely candidate for the top post in the chamber whenever current S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas decides to step down.

He’s also the early frontrunner for the soon-to-be-vacant S.C. fifth congressional district seat in Washington, D.C. – at least according to a new poll from Remington Research Group.

The fifth district seat is likely to come open very soon in the event its current occupant, Mick Mulvaney, is confirmed as the next director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

And yes, news of that appointment broke exclusively here on FITSNews.

According to the survey, Pope was the first choice of 25 percent of respondents, while former SCGOP chairman Chad Connelly and S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman each received the support of nine percent of respondents.  S.C. House majority leader Gary Simrill drew just six percent, although in fairness to him the poll was put in the field well after he made clear that he was not seeking the post.

A whopping 52 percent of respondents were undecided, incidentally, and it’s also worth noting that all of the candidates polled had yet to make either a positive or negative impression on a majority of district residents.

That’s especially bad news for Norman – who campaigned for this district years ago against former U.S. Rep. John Spratt.

How quickly the losers are forgotten, right?

Another candidate – Indian Land, S.C. attorney Kris Wampler – has also announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination, although his name was not included in the poll.

Here’s the data we were provided …

Q: If the candidates in the Republican Primary Election for United States Congress were Gary Simrill, Tommy Pope, Chad Connelly, and Ralph Norman and the election were held today, for whom would you vote?

Gary Simrill: 6%
Tommy Pope: 25%
Chad Connelly: 9%
Ralph Norman: 9%
Undecided: 52%

Q: What is your opinion of Tommy Pope?

Favorable: 34%
Unfavorable: 9%
No opinion: 56%

Q: What is your opinion of Gary Simrill?

Favorable: 18%
Unfavorable: 12%
No opinion: 70%

Q: What is your opinion of Chad Connelly?

Favorable: 10%
Unfavorable: 9%
No opinion: 80%

Q: What is your opinion of Ralph Norman?

Favorable: 18%
Unfavorable: 13%
No opinion: 70%

Remington had a solid track record during the 2016 election cycle, so its results will likely be viewed with credibility by would-be candidates and their political analysts.

“Tommy Pope holds a strong lead when polling candidates who have expressed interest in running in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional Republican Special Election,” said Titus Bond, the firm’s director. “While Mr. Pope has yet to announce if he is going to run for the seat, this poll serves as a great indicator of the popularity he has in the upstate of South Carolina.”

Bond said the poll was conducted between January 7-8 and that 778 likely Republican special election voters were included in its sample.  The survey’s margin of error?  Plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The big question?  Whether Pope will run.

According to our sources, the former solicitor was not initially interested in seeking this seat – nor did he ask for his name to be included in Remington’s survey.  That’s in contrast to most of these surveys, which are touted by frontrunners in an effort to freeze competitors out of the race.

Up until the recent musical chairs involving U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and governor Nikki Haley, Pope was an announced candidate for governor of South Carolina in 2018 – although many believed he would eventually transition to a campaign for S.C. attorney general.

Now?  He’s obviously got a decision on his hands …

One factor that may compel him to jump in?  Lingering bad blood within the S.C. House over an ongoing criminal investigation into alleged corruption.  According to many rank-and-file GOP members of the House, Pope has been too eager to cooperate with an investigation led by Democratic prosecutor David Pascoe that they believe has put them in real political jeopardy.

For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the fifth district (map) covers the northern central portion of South Carolina – including the booming suburbs of Charlotte, N.C.  It has been reliably Republican since it was redrawn prior to the 2012 elections, with Mulvaney trouncing his most recent Democratic opponent by more than 20 percentage points in the most recent race.

(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)