The South Carolina House’s number two officer announced Monday he will run for Congress this spring if current U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney takes a position in the Trump Administration.
Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York, is the fifth Republican to announce a prospective run for the seat, which will come open if the Senate confirms Mulvaney to be the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Pope insisted last month he wanted to remain in South Carolina, but explained Monday that he had reconsidered.
“If you had asked me three weeks ago, I would never have thought we’d be having this conversation,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “But I had a lot of people from the district calling and urging me. My wife and I discussed it and… this seemed to be the direction we need to head to serve this community.”
Pope has represented western York County in the state House since 2011, when he defeated a 32-year incumbent. He was elected to the Pro Tempore position in 2014 after his predecessor Jay Lucas was elected Speaker. However, Pope is perhaps known as the lead prosecutor in the Susan Smith case and got national attention after he helped convict the Union County woman for drowning her two children and accusing a fictitious kidnapper of taking them. In addition to his public career, Pope is now a partner at Elrod Pope Law Firm.
When asked about potentially giving up a leadership position in the SC House for a rank-and-file position in Congress, Pope said he would focus on constituent service. “The key is rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on the things you can change up there,” he said. “But turning back and looking towards South Carolina… and making sure that office is doing its best to take care of South Carolina and District Five.”
Another York County legislator State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, has also said he will run for the seat if Mulvaney is appointed. South Carolina State Guard commanding officer and Camden attorney Tom Mullikin announced a run last week, while Indian Land attorney Kris Wampler and anti-Common Core activist Sheri Few of Elgin have also said they will try for the seat. No Democratic candidates have formally announced their candidacy at this time.
Mulvaney’s nomination advanced to the full Senate floor, although the fiscal hawk’s nomination falls along party lines. He would likely be confirmed, however, if no Senate Republicans break ranks.