Voters in north-central South Carolina will head to the polls Tuesday for a runoff vote in the race for former U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s seat in the House of Representatives.
Current state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope and former State Rep. Ralph Norman were the top two vote-getters on the Republican side earlier this month, separated by less than one percentage point. And the two are running very different campaigns.
Pope is stumping on his record of working to bring the party together in Columbia and getting things done. The former solicitor has quickly worked his way up to a leadership position in the chamber and sponsored an ethics bill which became law last year.
“The ability I have to work hard and get things done in Columbia,” he told South Carolina Radio Network when asked why GOP voters should pick him. “It’s not for me to pass some litmus test, but to really get work done for the people in my community.”
Contrast that with Norman, who is running on his conservative record. The lawmaker, who resigned his SC House seat in February to run for the open position in Congress, said he believes the national debt and deficit spending should be the top priority which governs any other decisions.
“We’ve got to get on a firm financial footing,” he said. “Once we do that, fund the military. Our security is a top concern and, if we’re broke, we can’t afford to fund the military. So that’s a top priority.”
The winner on Tuesday will face the Democratic nominee and Sumter financial advisor Archie Parnell in the special election next month.
Norman has tried to contrast his time in Columbia with that of Pope’s, noting he usually voted with the governor on budget vetoes while Pope usually sided with House budgetwriters.
But Pope defended his approach, saying time is quickly running out for Republicans to enact changes before facing voter backlash for the ongoing stalemate in Washington.
“If we don’t grab it quick, if we get mired down in our differences as Republicans instead of getting to work doing something, we’re going to lose an opportunity,” he said. “So that’s what I’m heading there to do.”