South Carolina’s fourth congressional district (which incorporates the Upstate metropolitan areas of Greenville and Spartanburg) is staunchly “Republican.” Aside from the bright red third congressional district – which encompasses a more rural stretch of the Upstate along the border with Georgia – it is the “reddest” district in the Palmetto State.
And it will stay that way no matter which electoral map is adopted this year …
Which means whoever wins the GOP nomination for this seat is a virtual lock to win the district in November.
Since 2018, the fourth district has been represented by William Timmons – a business owner and former deputy solicitor who (unlike his predecessor) has developed a reputation for, well, staying pretty quiet.
According to a recent survey of GOP primary voters in the fourth district (the results of which were shared confidentially with this news outlet), a plurality of Republicans support the incumbent representative. The problem? Most fourth district GOP voters assumed the incumbent representative was Jeff Duncan, who has spent the last decade representing the neighboring third district.
A.k.a. not their congressman.
So, despite being elected to congress … twice … more fourth district Republican voters than not think someone other than Timmons is representing them in Washington, D.C.
Clearly that is … problematic.
So far, Timmons has been fortunate not to have drawn a top tier GOP rival. Three candidates have submitted paperwork to challenge him with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), but as of this writing none have raised anything resembling the kind of money necessary to compete for a congressional seat.
Timmons hasn’t raised a ton of money, either, but he enjoyed a 10-to-1 cash advantage over his nearest rival according to the latest FEC disclosures.
One of Timmons’ challengers – pro-MAGA, conservative pastor Mark Burns – has the potential to emerge as a top tier rival to the incumbent, but for Burns to become a force financially he would likely require an endorsement from former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Is that going to happen?
Probably not. Trump seems to have spread himself pretty thin in Palmetto State congressional races … meaning he is unlikely to back yet another primary challenger against a sitting member of congress. Also, unlike first district congresswoman Nancy Mace or seventh district congressman Tom Rice – Trump’s top two targets for defeat in South Carolina – Timmons hasn’t really done anything to piss off the former president.
Still, Timmons bid for a third term – which he officially kicked off earlier this year – won’t be without its hurdles. Earlier this month, one of his challengers – Upstate conservative activist Michael LaPierre – issued a statement reviving an issue that surfaced during Timmons’ first congressional bid four years ago.
The issue? Timmons’ abrupt departure from the U.S. Navy in September 2002.
My news outlet covered this issue back in June of 2018, and received the following document from Timmons’ campaign at the time …
(Click to view)
(Via: Timmons for Congress)
As you can see, a big chunk of the statement Timmons provided to the academy – the part in which he explained his rationale for resigning – has been redacted. Timmons’ campaign promised to supply this news outlet with an unredacted version of the document at the time – but never did.
So … what happened?
Timmons’ campaign told me he left the academy after receiving a tennis scholarship from George Washington University – where he graduated in 2006. In fact, Timmons 2018 campaign literature referenced him attending George Washington from 2002 to 2006 – even though he didn’t enroll at the school until August of 2003.
Timmons also told radio host Tara Servatius of WORD FM 106.3 at the time that in addition to his athletic pursuits, George Washington was a better fit for him academically. Had he stayed on at the academy, it would have required him to complete “four years of electrical engineering and calculus and things I was not necessarily interested in.”
LaPierre isn’t buying it. According to him, Timmons owes GOP primary voters in the fourth district an explanation – as well as a look at the unredacted document he supplied to the brass in Annapolis.
“He is trying to hide his reasons for quitting,” the challenger said, referring to the redacted document. “Why redact unless you have something to hide?”
(Click to view)
What does LaPierre (above) think Timmons is hiding?
Citing a conversation he had with a contemporary of Timmons at the academy , LaPierre said the future congressman “couldn’t handle the discipline of the physical demands” of the academy or the “intellectual demands.” LaPierre added that Timmons “had some potential on or off campus problems,” although he declined to elaborate.
Timmons’ supporters said the recycled attack was “bogus” – and pointed to the incumbent’s service in the S.C. Air National Guard (SCANG) as proof of his military bona fides.
“This was a bogus story in 2018 and it is (a bogus story) now, too,” one of Timmons backers told me this week. “William proudly serves. He loves the U.S. military. This was twenty years ago and he is actively serving in the military today.”
The current election schedule calls for candidates to formally file their paperwork during the final two weeks of March. Primary elections would then be held on June 14, 2022 with runoffs set for two weeks later on June 28, 2022 (in South Carolina, if no candidate receives more than fifty percent of the ballots in a primary race, a runoff election is held two weeks later between the top two vote-getters).
However, this schedule is likely to be pushed back by up to two months due to legal wrangling over the recently redrawn district lines …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that Asheville Tourists’ lid pictured above.
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