Washington Report: Updates From the Capitol

Clyburn calls for investigation of South Carolina candidates

Tim Scott Giving Thurmond Strong Fight for S.C. Congressional Seat


Tim Scott, the top vote-getter in a South Carolina primary race to fill the 1st Congressional District seat, may actually have a fighting chance to beat political legacy Paul Thurmond, son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, during their June 22 runoff. In this week’s primary, the first-term state representative won 30.6% of the vote to Thurmond’s 16.4%. And if he wins the November contest against African American Democrat Ben Frasier, Scott would be the first black Republican to serve in the House since Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Oklahoma) retired in 2003.

What are the chances? Republican House aide Darrell Jordan is optimistic. “Scott’s very sincere; he’s conservative, which matches that district; and he has ideas and solutions. He’s not just a politician who will spout off a bunch of Republican talking points,” Jordan said. More important, he’s worked his way through the system, Jordan added. “People have already seen him in action.”

David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, says that Scott’s success will depend in part on whether race is introduced into the campaign. After all, he says, the South is famous for having begun the practice of runoffs in the first place to prevent black candidates from winning office.

Scott probably has a decent shot, but it would not be surprising if someone aligned with Thurmond used race to wean off some of the black Republican’s support. “That’s the way it works,” Bositis notes.

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