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Trey Gowdy Stepping Down From Congress

Upstate SC congressman won’t seek another term in Washington …

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South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy will not seek another term in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Upstate lawmaker announced this week.

In a statement posted to his social media accounts, Gowdy said “there is a time to come and a time to go” – adding “this is the right time, for me, to leave politics.”

“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office,” Gowdy said in his statement. “Instead I will be returning to the justice system.  Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”

Gowdy, 53, was elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010.  Prior to that, the native of Greenville, S.C. served as solicitor for the Palmetto State’s seventh judicial circuit (which includes Spartanburg and Cherokee counties).

Gowdy’s decision – which came as a shock to virtually everyone in the Palmetto political universe – comes just eight months after he became chairman of the U.S. House oversight and government reform committee.  It also comes on the heels of intense speculation regarding Gowdy being a possible nominee for a seat on the U.S. fourth circuit court – not to mention a possible candidate for director of the scandal-scarred Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Gowdy appears to have declined both of those positions … and now he’s bailing on his congressional seat.

One of the hottest rumors associated with Gowdy’s bombshell announcement?  That he is stepping down to challenge liberal “Republican” U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in 2020.  Graham is in serious trouble with GOP voters in South Carolina, and Gowdy is one of those viewed as a credible alternative to run against him.

Is Gowdy of a mind to run against Graham?

We doubt it …

He’s made no secret of his displeasure with Washington life, and the reflective tone of his statement – complete with a quote from the book of Ecclesiastes – seems to reinforce the perception that he already has the Beltway in his rearview mirror.

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“There is no perfect time to make this announcement, but with filing opening in six weeks, it is important to give the women and men in South Carolina who might be interested in serving ample time to reflect on the decision,” Gowdy said.

One man many believed might be likely to “reflect” on Gowdy’s abrupt career move?  John Warren. The Upstate businessman – who has been making moves in anticipation of launching a gubernatorial bid – was presumed by many to be shifting his attention to the fourth congressional district (map) in the aftermath of the Gowdy announcement.

Warren quickly tamped down that speculation, however.

“I absolutely will not be a candidate for congress,” he told us. “I am continuing to explore the race for governor and no other office.”

Sounds pretty definitive to us …

Another possible candidate for this seat?  Upstate solicitor Walt Wilkins, who comes from one of the Upstate’s most influential political families. Wilkins is viewed by many as being groomed for higher office, although he has repeatedly taken a pass on running at the statewide level.

Perhaps a congressional bid is his next step?

State Senator William Timmons made no secret of his interest in this seat, which includes the GOP strongholds of Greenville and Spartanburg counties.  Timmons was elected to the State Senate in 2016 – defeating incumbent Mike Fair.

The young politico told The Greenville News he plans on putting $500,000 of his own money into the race.

State representative Dan Hamilton – a prominent Upstate real estate agent – is also mulling a bid, we’re told.

We expect the GOP field for this seat to be big … and the primary battle bruising.  And given the staunch conservative bent of the Upstate, whoever wins the “Republican” nod is all but guaranteed to prevail in the general election this November.  According to the Cook Political Report’s latest Partisan Voting Index (PVI), the seat has a plus-15 percent “Republican” lean – making it the second-safest GOP district in the state.

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