Politics

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell Making 2018 Announcement

Parnell lost by just 3 points in June special election for the 5th District

Archie Parnell campaigns with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan in Rock Hill, S.C. in June. (Simone Pathé/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell is set to make a “major announcement” on Oct. 9 in his hometown of Sumter about his 2018 plans, raising the likelihood that he will make another run for the Palmetto State’s 5th District. 

Parnell will also appear at a kickoff event for the York County Democratic Party in Rock Hill the same day. 

[Stay ahead of the curve on next year’s midterms with AT THE RACES]

Parnell lost to Republican Ralph Norman by just 3 points in the June special election in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 19 points last fall. The race was mostly forgotten by the national parties and media during the campaign, but it was the closest Democrats came to flipping a House seat in this spring’s special House elections. 

“I am grateful to all of the thousands of South Carolinians who supported me throughout the special election earlier this year,” Parnell said in a statement Wednesday. “Their dedication and energy is what enabled the close result in June, and I owe them an answer as to what my plans are for 2018.”

[South Carolina’s 5th District: The Forgotten Special Election]

“Unfortunately, we continue to see a total lack of accomplishment from Washington as career politicians talk past each other without ever coming together to solve the huge challenges facing our country. I have been thinking long and hard about what role I can play in finding real solutions for the people of South Carolina,” he added. 

Parnell had about $27,000 in the bank after the election. He had donated and loaned his campaign about $300,000 for the race. Norman hasn’t yet had to file a quarterly fundraising report with the FEC. After the special election, he had $152,000 in the bank. Norman had loaned his campaign $495,000 for the race.

The 5th District special election was overshadowed by the highly nationalized special election in Georgia’s 6th District, which took place the same day. The national parties and outside groups did not invest anywhere near the resources in South Carolina that they did in Georgia.

The fact that the race wasn’t as nationalized may be one reason GOP turnout was so low and Parnell was able to keep the margin close. 

Parnell was known for quirky TV ads in which he embraced his geeky tax lawyer persona and invoked the hit Netflix series “House of Cards,” whose fictional protagonist is a congressman from the same district. Between the time those ads first ran in March and late May, Parnell had narrowed the gap between him and Norman by 6 points, according to internal polling. But Parnell was still 10 points down. 

In the days leading up to the election, Parnell worked to turn out the African-American vote by showing up at fish fries and festivals across the district. Surrogates such as Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley all came to the district to rally for Parnell. 

Despite the district voting overwhelmingly for Trump, a Democrat held the seat as recently as 2011. (John M. Spratt Jr. represented the 5th District for 14 terms.)

National Democrats failed to rally behind Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs adviser, but he lost by a narrower margin than Jon Ossoff, the well-funded Democrat in Georgia’s 6th District.

Ossoff has been updating his campaign Facebook page in recent days and speaking more forcefully against Trump, as he too considers another bid for Congress.  

But in a midterm environment with more competitive districts on the map, there will likely be fewer resources for Democrats to spend in either of these districts. 

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