Inglis, Brown Face GOP Primary Tests Next Year

Posted October 9, 2009 at 6:06pm

The speculation about whether Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) will face a serious primary challenge next year is likely only going to increase after Federal Election Commission reports are filed later this week.

Inglis’ office didn’t have final fundraising numbers available on Thursday, but a spokesman said the Congressman raised about $100,000 in the third quarter.

That’s not an overly impressive number for a three-term Congressman, especially considering the fact that Inglis had just less than $180,000 in cash on hand at the end of June.

It also won’t be enough to separate Inglis from his two most serious primary rivals.

Spartanburg County Solicitor and former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy (R) said last week that he will report about $125,000 raised for the quarter. State Sen. David Thomas (R), whose legislative district is based in the more populous Greenville portion of the 4th district, put his third-quarter haul at close to $90,000. Gowdy ended the second quarter with more than $80,000 in cash on hand, while Thomas, who had just started fundraising before the reporting deadline, had just $12,000 in cash on hand as of June 30.

Inglis is serving his second tour in the House, having served three terms from 1992 to 1998. He left to honor his term-limit pledge, but after an unsuccessful run for Senate he returned to the House in 2004. In recent years, some conservatives have criticized Inglis for moving too far to the center.

His vote in early 2007 supporting the Democratic resolution opposing the “surge— in Iraq was a key reason he earned a primary challenge last cycle.

Inglis was able to beat back that challenge with relative ease, but he became a target of conservatives in South Carolina again last month when he was one of just a handful of Republicans to back the official rebuke of fellow South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (R) for shouting “You lie!— at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress.

Late last month, Wilson traveled to Inglis’ district for a fundraiser where both Thomas and Gowdy were in attendance.

Thomas has referenced the Wilson incident in a fundraising solicitation for his campaign, and though he counts Wilson as a longtime friend, he said he does not believe Wilson would get involved in the 4th district Republican primary.

“He’s got his own campaign to run. You can’t expect [Wilson to get involved] because someone was mean and kicked him when he was down,— he said.

Thomas said he doesn’t expect Inglis’ vote to rebuke Wilson will be a major issue in the primary, but he said the incident was “symptomatic of the odd voting behavior— of the Congressman.

“We’ve seen a substantial change in the Bob that everyone loved 18 years ago,— said Thomas, who added that he was once an Inglis supporter. “The Bob we saw then is not the Bob we’re seeing today.—

Gowdy was less inclined to focus on the Wilson incident.

“I haven’t used it as a fundraising tool and I’m not going to,— Gowdy said. “My philosophy is if you are going to govern differently, you need to conduct yourself as a candidate differently. I’m more focused on talking about myself than I am Bob or David or anyone else.—

Wilson isn’t the only South Carolina Republican facing a primary threat this cycle.

Late last month, Carroll Campbell III (R), the son and namesake of the state’s former governor, made his primary challenge against 1st district Rep. Henry Brown (R) official.

In a district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won with 56 percent at the presidential level, Brown’s 52 percent victory over Food Lion grocery chain heiress Linda Ketner (D) gave the Congressman the lowest winning percentage of his Congressional career. Ketner, who largely self-funded her bid, has said she will not run again in 2010.

It will be interesting to see whether Brown learned from that electoral scare and if Campbell can gain traction during the fourth fundraising quarter.

Brown’s camp did not have third-quarter fundraising numbers available last week, but Chief of Staff Chris Berardini said the Congressman was “very pleased with the support he has received— over the past three months.

“During the past quarter, Congressman Brown has received strong support from constituents up and down the 1st district pleased with his efforts to try to bring new jobs to coastal South Carolina while fighting to stop government-run health care, the Democrats’ energy tax and wasteful spending,— Berardini said.