WILL THIRD-TERM STATE LAWMAKER GIVE HER PARTY A COMPETITIVE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE?
South Carolina Democrats desperate to mount a competitive candidate in the upcoming special election for the Palmetto State’s fifth congressional district are openly courting S.C. Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell.
Will the third-term state lawmaker from Lancaster, S.C. give them the time of day?
That remains to be seen, but a major push is underway to convince Norrell to enter the upcoming race. In fact, it’s even bubbling up in the mainstream media, with Norrell’s State House colleague Rep. John King referring to her as “the rock star of the Democratic party,” a candidate who would “frighten the hell out of Republicans.”
Take a look …
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As with most elections in South Carolina, there are plenty of GOP candidates for this seat – which is likely to be vacated soon when its current occupant, fourth-term U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, is confirmed as the next director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
News of Mulvaney’s appointment broke exclusively here on FITSNews. And while his confirmation has been rockier than expected, Trump officials have made it clear to us they are counting on him being confirmed.
Last November, Mulvaney thrashed Democrat Fran Person in the general election for this seat – drawing 59.2 percent of the vote (161,669 ballots) to Person’s 38.9 percent (105,772 ballots).
Person’s landslide defeat shocked Democrats – who believed his fresh-faced, well-funded, institutionally-supported candidacy would pose a credible challenge to Mulvaney. They obviously did not count on the wave of popular support for president Donald Trump – who turned out GOP voters in droves throughout the Palmetto State.
Mulvaney – who originally supported U.S. Senator Rand Paul‘s presidential bid – stood behind Trump during the general election. And that gamble paid off for him in a huge way.
A 2017 special election would be a different story, though.
Turnout would be significantly lower, Republican energy from the 2016 race would have likely dissipated and the eventual GOP nominee would have just emerged from a bruising primary battle.
Could a moderate, intelligent, energetic … and yes, exceedingly attractive … Democratic candidate like Norrell take advantage of such a situation?
Norrell has been quietly building her brand – and her grassroots base – since entering the House in 2013. The 43-year-old small town bankruptcy attorney began drawing statewide attention back in 2015 – when she delivered the Democratic response to then-S.C. governor Nikki Haley‘s annual State of the State address.
Regarding as quirky but “wicked smart” by her colleagues in the S.C. House, Norrell recently signed on as a lead sponsor of the state’s new medical marijuana legalization bill – and has quickly emerged as one of the legislation’s most effective advocates.
“She mastered the policy nuances, the legislative chessboard and the media aspect of this issue immediately,” said S.C. Senator Tom Davis, who has been leading the legislative battle to legalize cannabis for medical purposes. “Not only that she had the courage to sign on to the bill and push it on each of these fronts knowing she was going to get beaten up for it by some in the law enforcement lobby.”
Davis added that Norrell had earned the respect of numerous GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate for her consistent advocacy on a wide range of issues.
“She’s an honest broker,” Davis told us. “Whether you agree with her on a particular issue or not.”
Obviously intelligent and honest lawmakers are in short supply at the S.C. State House – which is literally teeming with corruption and self-interest. They are also in short supply in Washington, D.C.
Which brings us back to the question at hand: Will Norrell run for Congress?
Anything can happen in politics, but we view such a bid as highly unlikely at this point. The fifth district – redrawn in advance of the 2012 election – is staunchly Republican. Even in a special election, Democrats face near-insurmountable odds – even if they were to run a credible candidate like Norrell.
So why would one of the rising stars in the minority party risk her forward momentum on an all-but-guaranteed loss in a congressional race?
She wouldn’t, sources close to Norrell tell us.
“Not happening,” one prominent Democrat familiar with Norrell’s plans told us.
Also, Norrell is regarding by her State House colleagues as something of a “homebody,” driving from Columbia to her Lancaster residence each night during the legislative session to spend time with her family as opposed to attended a litany of alcohol-soaked legislative “receptions.”
Norrell wasn’t immediately available to comment regarding the fifth district special election but we’ll be sure to let you know in the event we hear back from her.
In the meantime, we will continue to keep our readers apprised as to the latest on the GOP side of the ledger.