Open-Seat Races in S.C. Headed to Runoffs

Posted June 8, 2010 at 10:00pm

Updated: June 9, 1:22 a.m.

Republicans will have to wait for runoffs in two weeks to determine whom the next Members of Congress will be in South Carolina’s 1st and 3rd districts.

In the Charleston-based 1st district, state Rep. Tim Scott earned a spot in the June 22 runoff by garnering 32 percent of the vote. He will face Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, the son of the legendary late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), who finished second with 16 percent. Carroll Campbell III, the son of the state’s former governor, finished a close third with 14 percent.

If Scott, who is the only African-American Republican in the South Carolina Legislature, can keep the momentum through a runoff, he will have a good chance of being the first black Republican in Congress since former Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.). The winner of the GOP nomination in the 1st will be heavily favored to replace retiring Rep. Henry Brown (R).

The Democratic candidate in November will be businessman and former Congressional aide Ben Frasier.

In the 3rd district, businessman Richard Cash and state Rep. Jeff Duncan are headed to a runoff in the GOP race to replace Rep. Gresham Barrett (R).

With 100 percent reporting, Cash had 25 percent to Duncan’s 23 percent.

Duncan, who was endorsed by the anti-tax group the Club for Growth, was expected to make the runoff in the six-way race. But Cash’s performance came as a bit of a surprise.

Cash, an anti-abortion activist, was outraised and outspent in the race by multiple primary opponents, but he found traction in the tea party movement. Several local tea party groups endorsed him leading up to Tuesday’s election.

Cash’s strong performance bumped state Rep. Rex Rice out of making the runoff. Rice, who had been endorsed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), was considered an early favorite in the primary. Rice finished in third with 20 percent.

Businessman Joe Grimaud, who entered the contest in late March and tried to use his deep pockets to buy the race, came in fourth with 19 percent.

The winner of the runoff will cruise to victory in the safely Republican district.