Two weeks ago, it seemed the race for South Carolina’s third congressional district – which will be settled in this spring’s Republican primary election – would pit seven-term incumbent Jeff Duncan against state senator Richard J. Cash of Piedmont, S.C.
Such a race would have reprised the 2010 GOP primary for this seat which Cash narrowly won on the first ballot – but then lost to second-place finisher Duncan in a runoff. In South Carolina partisan primaries, if a candidate does not receive a majority of votes on the first ballot the top two finishers face off in a runoff two weeks later.
Duncan had not been credibly challenged in any election since defeating Cash fourteen years ago. Of course, that was before he became embroiled in a sex scandal involving a Washington, D.C. lobbyist back in September – which has exposed him to allegations of hypocrisy.
Readers will recall Duncan hosts an annual gathering called the “Faith and Freedom BBQ,” an event which has been a top political draw ahead of the quadrennial “First in the South” presidential primary election. Last August, though, the supposed social conservative was alleged to have departed for Washington, D.C. the day after this event – at which he touted his marriage to wife Melody Hodges Duncan – and proceeded “directly to the home of his paramour, Liz Williams.”
Liz Williams is a Jackson, Mississippi native and former National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist who has allegedly been involved in multiple extramarital extracurriculars in our nation’s capital. She is now reportedly in a public relationship with Duncan, who has been doing his best to put the kibosh on this scandal.
Over the weekend, the next domino fell.
At a highly anticipated gathering of social conservatives in Anderson, S.C., Cash announced that he, too, would not be seeking the third congressional seat – giving way to 40-year-old state representative Stewart Jones of Greenwood, S.C. Jones is a member of the SC Freedom Caucus who has spent the last five years representing House District 14 in the S.C. General Assembly.
Believe it or not, Jones was not the first candidate to publicly declare for this seat.
Last Thursday – scarcely 24 hours after Duncan announced his decision to run again – nurse practitioner and Air National Guard lieutenant colonel Sheri Biggs of Salem, S.C. announced she was running. Of interest? Biggs’ campaign staff included several of Duncan’s former political aides.
“Our nation is struggling and Washington is broken because it has a health problem – mental, fiscal, and spiritual,” Biggs said in a statement announcing her bid. “I’m running for Congress to continue my lifetime of service and treat Washington’s health problem with truth-seeking servant leadership – not power-seeking politics as usual.”
(Click to view)
Biggs’ announcement – or more specifically its suspiciously opportune timing – took many in the district by surprise. It also enraged those affiliated with other would-be campaigns, who insisted the congressman and his staff gave Biggs a jump-start by informing her of his plans in advance – while keeping that information from others.
“A lot of third district operatives are furious with Jeff Duncan and his staff,” one veteran GOP strategist told this media outlet. “They straight up lied for weeks about Jeff and (his) reelection – basically saying he was running. Then this Biggs woman releases a fully formed campaign that obviously took weeks to produce.”
Another Republican strategist went so far as to call Biggs “Duncan 2.0.”
“Biggs launches her campaign less than 24 hours after Jeff Duncan announces his retirement,” the strategist noted. “(Complete with) website, logo, etc. all built out. Oh, and she has the same team as Jeff Duncan. Isn’t that the team that covered for Duncan’s moral and ethical indiscretions for years?”
This race is clearly going to be a brawl …
South Carolina’s third district runs along the Georgia and North Carolina borders in the northwestern portion of the state. It includes all of ten counties – Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens, and Saluda – and parts of Anderson and Greenville counties. As mentioned earlier, it is hardcore Republican – with former president Donald Trump receiving 69 percent of the vote within the district in the 2020 presidential election.
The filing period for partisan primary races in South Carolina begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on March 16, 2024 and closes on April 1, 2024. Partisan primary races will be held on June 11, 2024, and if no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, a runoff election will be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024.
Count on our outlet to keep our audience in the loop in the event other candidates file for this seat … as well as looming primary battles in other congressional districts across the state.
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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.