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#SCStateHouse: GOP Challenger Emerges In Senate Special Election

“Republican” candidate files campaign finance report for seat vacated by John Courson …

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A “Republican” challenger has emerged in the race to fill the South Carolina Senate seat vacated earlier this month by the resignation of longtime state senator John Courson (the latest politician to go down in connection with the ongoing #ProbeGate scandal).

Bill Turbeville, president of the Turbeville Insurance Agency, filed an initial campaign finance report on Wednesday with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC).

That would seem to indicate his intention to file the requisite paperwork to run in the upcoming special election for S.C. Senate District 20 (map), a seat Courson held for more than thirty years.

Of interest?  Turbeville’s initial campaign finance filing included a $20,000 loan – and sources familiar with his impending candidacy tell us he “will have over $100,000 at filing if there is a primary.”

That’s a lot of cheddar … but not as much cheddar as influential attorney and former S.C. Democratic Party (SCDP) chairman Dick Harpootlian.

The lone Democrat to indicate his intention to run for this seat, Harpootlian kicked off his campaign last week with a $150,000 war chest.

So far only one other would-be GOP contender – Columbia, S.C. attorney Christian Stegmaier – has expressed an interest in the seat.  The party’s favored candidate – seventh-term state representative Nathan Ballentine – decided earlier this week against running for the seat despite previous statements to the contrary.

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According to our sources, Turbeville is a moderate “Republican” who is “just center-right enough to pull off a win in the general.”

Given the how the stars have aligned for the Democrats in this race, that would be quite a feat.

This Senate seat very nearly went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and it will be contested on the same day as the 2018 general election – which many believe will see a blue wave crest through its borders.  Also, this year’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee – Afghan War veteran and former S.C. minority leader James Smith – hails from the heart of this district, meaning Democrats will be turning out in droves to support him.

All of these are reasons Ballentine decided against running for the seat – even though he has coveted it for years.

Then there is Harpootlian …

Outspoken and unconventional, the brash attorney is eschewing standard Democratic talking points and campaigning on a potent populist shtick.  Specifically, he wants to eliminate many of the paid perks lawmakers award themselves once in office, get rid of a legislative exemption that allows lawmakers to keep their correspondence hidden from public view and mandate jail time when elected officials are convicted of violating the public trust.

We suspect these points will sell even better in light of the chronic corruption plaguing the GOP … which will come to the fore if Henry McMaster (one of Courson’s longtime political intimates) winds up winning the “Republican” gubernatorial nomination next week.

Filing for this seat opens at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Friday and closes eight days later.  Partisan primary elections will be held on August 14 with the special general election falling on November 6 – the same day as statewide general elections.

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