South Carolina Democrats believe their best chance at winning a new seat in Congress this November likely rests in the Pee Dee. That’s where candidate Gloria Bromell-Tinubu is running for the brand-new 7th District. Tinubu, an economics professor and former Georgia assemblywoman, surprised the party’s establishment by winning the Democratic primary in June. She faces Horry County Council chairman Tom Rice in November.
Since then, many of her supporters have complained the party brass is not getting behind Tinubu, whose campaign is currently running a debt. Privately, many state Democrats express doubt about her chances.
“It’s very clear why District 7 is drawn the way it’s drawn,” Rep. Jim Clyburn said candidly on Wednesday, “It’s going to be very, very difficult for a Democrat to win. It’s not impossible, but very difficult.” Clyburn previously endorsed Tinubu’s opponent in the June primary, Preston Brittain.
It didn’t help that Tinubu’s own party chairman Dick Harpootlian filed a legal challenge after she was declared the winner of the June 12 primary. Tinubu eventually won a runoff against Brittain two weeks later, picking up 73 percent of the Democratic vote.
She appeared before the state’s delegation in Charlotte Thursday, asking for help. “I received more votes than the Republican nominee (in the primary),” she told the party’s leadership, “We can do this. But we need your help. We need volunteers. We need financial resources.”Afterwards, Tinubu dismissed any talk of a rift between herself and state party leaders. “We had a situation where we just came out of a primary and people were on different sides,” she told South Carolina Radio Network, “Now we are coalescing and moving forward. So, things are getting better.”
Tinubu took the unusual step of actively using several of the region’s unions in her campaign. While it’s not unusual for unions to lean towards Democrats, Tinubu is one of the few South Carolina candidates of either party to actively involve them in her campaign.
Republicans have criticized Tinubu’s liberal voting record while she served in the Georgia House of Representatives, noting she unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Atlanta as a Green Party candidate.