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SC-5: From Runoff To Recount




Former South Carolina lawmaker Ralph Norman won the “Republican” runoff for the Palmetto State’s fifth congressional district on Tuesday night … we think.

With all precincts reporting, Norman enjoyed a narrow lead over S.C. speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope – the early frontrunner to win this seat.

How narrow?  Out of 35,307 ballots cast, Norman led Pope by just 203 votes.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a margin of just 0.58 percent.  Because the final tally between the two candidates was within one percent, a mandatory recount will take place on Friday.  That process will be overseen by the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC).

Can Pope make up the ground he needs to overtake Norman?  It’s doubtful … but anything can happen (especially in this state).

Pope made it clear on Tuesday evening that he had no intention of conceding the race.

“It looks like we won’t know the final result tonight, but no matter what happens I am humbled and thankful for the trust placed in me by the voters of the fifth congressional district,” he said.  “We will let the automatic recount process play out to ensure every vote is properly counted.”

Pope has reportedly retained prominent Palmetto election lawyer Butch Bowers to represent his campaign’s interests during the recount process.

While Pope lawyered up, Norman’s backers moved quickly to position him as the nominee of the party – and transition their campaign to the next phase of this high-profile special election.

Assuming Norman prevails, he will face Republican … err, “DemocratArchie Parnell and several assorted third party candidates on June 20.  The winner of that race will fill the congressional seat vacated back in February by Mick Mulvaney, who stepped down after the U.S. Senate confirmed him as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“The train against Parnell is leaving the station,” said Walter Whetsell, a top strategist for Norman. “Every Republican I know is on it except Pope. His choice.”

“Our opponent is Archie Parnell,” Norman’s communications director RJ May III added.  “The runoff is over.  We are on to the general election.  Democrats would want nothing more for us to waste time pretending this race is still in question.”

Parnell has been making a lot of noise about “Flipping the Fifth,” although it remains to be seen whether a flood of national liberal money could accomplish such a task – even if he were to receive it.

Democrats certainly weren’t waiting for the results of the recount to go after Norman, though.

I congratulate Ralph Norman on becoming the Republican nominee,” S.C. Democratic Party (SCDP) chairman Trav Robertson said.  “Now all fifth district voters look forward to hearing whether he supports the efforts of Washington Republicans to take health care away from 24 million Americans, cut taxes for millionaires while saddling our children with debt, and make excuses for a president who recklessly undermines the rule of law and endangers our national security.” 

Pope and Norman finished in a dead heat during the first round of GOP voting for this seat on May 2 – with Pope collecting 11,943 votes (30.41 percent) and Norman drawing 11,808 votes (30.07 percent) in that election.  Because neither candidate was able to eclipse the fifty percent mark in a six-candidate field, they advanced to a runoff election against each other.

The runoff proved every bit as close, with Norman drawing 17,775 votes (50.3 percent) to Pope’s 17,552 votes (49.7 percent).

Banner via Travis Bell Photography