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#SCStateHouse: Dick Harpootlian Rolls Out Endorsements

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Influential South Carolina attorney Dick Harpootlian rolled out an impressive list of endorsements this week in his bid to win S.C. Senate District 20 (map) this November.

This is the Senate seat vacated earlier this month by fiscally liberal “Republican” John Courson – who became the latest casualty in the ongoing #ProbeGate investigation into corruption in state government.

Courson resigned this seat three weeks ago just before pleading guilty to one count of misconduct in office.   Prior to that, he represented this district for more than three decades – including a brief stint as president of the Senate.

Harpootlian – who announced his candidacy two weeks ago – is the odds-on favorite to capture this district for Democrats in November.  In fact, the top “Republican” prospect for the seat – state representative Nathan Ballentine – opted not to run.

Other GOP candidates are mulling bids, but as of this writing none have announced.  So far, no other Democrats have even expressed an interest in running.

Here is the first round of endorsements received by Harpootlian …

Leon Lott, Sheriff, Richland County, SC
Gary Watts, Coroner, Richland County
John Scott, State Senator
Mia McLeod, State Senator
Todd Rutherford, Minority Leader, State House of Representatives
Beth Bernstein, State Representative
Sam Davis, Member, Columbia City Council
Kit Smith, Former Member, Columba City Council
Anne Sinclair, former member, Columbia City Council
Barry Walker, Irmo City Council
Byron Gipson, Democratic Nominee, 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office
Bakari Sellers, Former State Representative and current CNN Contributor

That’s an impressive list, people … which along with Harpootlian’s rumored $150,000 war chest is likely to make both Democrats and “Republicans” think long and hard about challenging him.

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“Republicans” should think long and hard …

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 cresting across the nation.  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.

As we’ve noted in our prior coverage, the perpetually off-script Harpootlian has been eschewing standard Democratic talking points and campaigning on a particularly potent strain of populism.  Specifically, he wants to ditch many of the paid perks lawmakers award themselves once in office, eliminate a legislative exemption that allows lawmakers to keep their correspondence hidden from public view and mandate jail time whenever elected officials (like Courson) are convicted of violating the public trust.

These proposals would sell exceedingly well in any electoral climate.  Our guess is they 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 opened last Friday and closes this weekend.  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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