Former State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg County is attempting a return to politics, two years after he was knocked out of office in the Republican primary.
Bright said Thursday he will run for outgoing U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy’s seat. Bright made the announcement on Greenville station 106.3 WORD. “I’m looking forward to going up to Washington and doing what I did in Columbia. And that’s fight the establishment,” he told host Bob McClain.
The former senator had a reputation as one of the most contrarian conservative members of the Senate, frequently voting against his own party on budget and social issues. He sponsored unsuccessful bills to track refugees resettled to South Carolina and sponsored a transgender restroom bill which got national attention, but ultimately failed to reach the Senate floor. He also spoke out against and opposed the 2015 resolution which removed the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.
He hoped the reputation will win among GOP voters, even though it led to members of his own party endorsing the opponent who unseat him in 2016, State Sen. Scott Talley.
“If you vote for Lee Bright, you know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m going to fight for our gun rights, I’m going to fight for the unborn and I’m going to fight for our tax dollars.”
Bright also challenged U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reelection bid in 2014. He finished second among the various Tea Party-backed candidates who ran against Graham, but ultimately lacked enough votes to force a runoff with the incumbent senator.
Ten other Republicans have already entered the crowded race, including current legislators State Rep. Dan Hamilton, R-Taylors and State Sen. William Timmons, R-Greenville. Easley pastor and Trump campaign advisor Mark Burns is also among the candidates for the GOP primary in June. Six Democrats have also declared.