It took a primary of seven candidates, two-man runoff and an additional three days to recount the votes, but we now know who will represent the Republican Party in next month’s special election for an open seat in Congress.
The South Carolina State Election Commission certified the final vote Friday for former State Rep. Ralph Norman, officially recognizing a 221-vote advantage over State Rep. Tommy Pope in the race to represent the Fifth Congressional District.
Norman had anticipated the win ever since he edged out Pope in Tuesday’s primary with 50.3 percent of the vote. State law requires an automatic recount in any race decided by a percentage point or less.
“If it were a two- or three-vote margin, you could see it (flipping),” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “But with more than 200, barring some catastrophe, I felt like it would work out.”
He will now face Democratic nominee Archie Parnell in next month’s special election. Parnell is a former financial advisor who lives in Sumter and is making his first run for elected office.
“Now the people of the 5th Congressional District have a clear choice,” Parnell said in a statement after Tuesday’s runoff. “Do we want a leader who fights for better wages, affordable healthcare and equal justice for all, or a career politician who ignores dangerous threats to our national security and thinks pregnancy should be a pre-existing condition?”
Norman is a real estate developer who previously represented northern York County in the state House of Representatives for ten years. He also won the Republican nomination for the Fifth District in 2006, but lost to then-incumbent U.S. Rep. John Spratt in the general election. But he insists the demographics have since changed in the district which sprawls across north central South Carolina.
“It’s no comparison (to 2006),” he said. “Now it’s a totally different mountain to climb.”
The candidates are running to replace former U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who stepped down in February to become director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.