Inglis a Near-Lock to Reclaim Old Seat

Posted June 9, 2004 at 5:24pm

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) cruised to an open-seat primary victory Tuesday and is almost certain to reclaim the Upstate 4th district that he held from 1992 to 1998.

He took 84 percent in a three-way Republican primary that was notable only for its decided lack of competition.

“It turned out quite differently than I expected,” Inglis said in an interview Wednesday. “I expected six or eight out of the 10 or 12 people thinking about [running for the seat] to actually do it.”

Inglis, 44, will face funeral home executive Brandon Brown in the fall. Brown defeated Capitol Hill police officer Andrew Wittman convincingly on Tuesday.

Despite his opposition in the fall, Inglis is a near-lock to reclaim the seat due to its heavy Republican tilt; President Bush won 64 percent in the 2000 race.

The seat became vacant when Inglis’ successor, Rep. Jim DeMint (R), decided to run for Senate this year. DeMint on Tuesday advanced to the June 22 Senate runoff with former Gov. David Beasley (R).

Inglis’ return to the House will come six years after he left the body in keeping with a three-term-limit pledge. He did not make a similar oath this time around.

“Along the way I realized it was a mistake to unilaterally disarm, and it was a mistake I would not repeat,” Inglis said.

Inglis added that he had learned a number of lessons from his 1998 challenge to Sen. Fritz Hollings (D), a race that was widely seen as a tossup but that he lost by 7 points.

“It was tremendously valuable to have that experience,” said Inglis. “You know who is helpful and who can actually deliver.”

He credited his “expanded door-to-door” strategy with securing him such a hefty primary margin on Tuesday.

Targeted voters received a piece of direct mail from the Inglis campaign prior to his visit to their precincts, and radio ads ran as he stumped in a particular area advertising the visit and a central location where voters could gather to speak with him.

“We were out pounding the pavement and not sitting on the laurels of 1993 through 1999,” said Inglis.

Though he served on the Budget and Judiciary committees during his previous six-year stint on Capitol Hill, Inglis’ prime interest now is energy related.

The International Center for Automotive Research is based in Greenville and is researching smart-car technology and alternative fuels. The project, which is based at Clemson University, received $13 million in funding from BMW and Michelin, both of which have headquarters in the district.

“My main interest in committee assignments will be furthering the objectives of smart cars and fuels of the future,” Inglis said.