One of the South Carolina House’s most conservative members has stepped down from his post to run for a suddenly-open seat in Congress.
State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, made the announcement from the House floor on Thursday just moments after the U.S. Senate confirmed South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney as the new White House Office of Management and Budget director. Norman, a real estate developer in his private life, had represented northern York County in the House for a decade.
“I want to apply my practical experience in business to help President Trump and the conservative members of Congress fix what is broken in Washington,” he said in a release announcing his decision.
Norman would have been allowed to keep his House seat during the upcoming campaign. Indeed, a fellow House Republican State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, has also announced a run for the same seat. However, Norman said he wanted to save the state time and at least $25,000 by having the special election for his Statehouse seat be held the same day as the congressional race — just in case he does win the Republican primary.
“What I’m trying to do is coordinate the election of my seat with Congress,” he said on the House floor Thursday. “Hopefully, we can do that.”
It’s actually not the first time Norman has taken the unusual step. Two years after first winning his current House seat, Norman stepped aside to challenge then-U.S. Rep. John Spratt in the 2006 election. He was then reelected to the SC House in 2008 after his replacement former State Rep. Carl Gullick decided not to seek reelection.
Besides Norman and Pope, the other candidates who have so far announced runs for Mulvaney’s old seat include former state Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly; S.C. State Guard commander Tom Mullikin; anti-Common Core activist Sheri Few; and Indian Land attorney Kris Wampler.
In his farewell speech, Norman called on newer legislators to “challenge the status quo,” noting his own longshot run to be Speaker of the House against then-incumbent Bobby Harrell in 2010. Harrell dominated Norman that election, but had to resign four years later to face ethics-related charges.
“I liked Bobby personally, but he just was not doing the right thing,” Norman said. “We didn’t win, nor did I think we were going to win, but… it started the unraveling.”