With state Sen. Mick Mulvaney bound for Congress, the field of contenders for his legislative seat is beginning to take shape.
Lancaster pharmacy owner Hugh Mobley appears to be the top choice of Republican Party leaders.
Mobley declared his candidacy Tuesday in a statement issued through Starboard Communications, the Columbia political consulting firm that helped Mulvaney score a victory over U.S. Rep. John Spratt.
Fort Mill attorney Bayles Mack also is considering a run. Mack said he would run as a Republican, though he has long been affiliated with the Democratic Party.
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An institution in York County business and political circles, Mack served four terms on the state highway commission and has been Fort Mill's city attorney since 1969. A stretch of Interstate 77 is named in Mack's honor.
"I'm thinking about it," Mack said. "It's still too early and I'm still talking to folks in Fort Mill and Lancaster who I respect, and I want to get their opinion."
The winner of a special election will complete two years left on Mulvaney's four-year term in Senate District 16 - a narrow stretch from rural southern Lancaster County into Fort Mill, including Baxter Village. Mulvaney has not yet resigned his seat.
No contenders have surfaced on the Democratic side, at least publicly.
"We certainly do plan to have a candidate, and are talking to several people," said S.C. Democratic Party chairwoman Carol Fowler.
Stan Smith, a Fort Mill resident who ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian against state Rep. Ralph Norman in District 48, said he plans to seek the District 16 seat.
However, Smith said he's not sure if he'll seek the nomination as a Republican or Libertarian.
Outgoing York County Councilman Paul Lindemann, a Republican, told The Herald he is mulling a run but would need an OK from his family.
"I'm just enjoying spending time with my family and trying to earn a living," Lindemann said. "If it's the right time, I'll do it. If it's not, then I'll wait. You don't have to be elected to make a difference."
Mobley would be an advocate for USC Lancaster, said former state Sen. Greg Gregory, who held the seat for 14 years before Mulvaney.
Gov. Mark Sanford twice sought to close the regional USC campus in his budget requests, and Gov.-elect Nikki Haley has not ruled out potential school closings as part of a top-to-bottom spending review.
Democrat Mandy Powers Norrell said she won't mount a second bid after her hard-fought loss to Mulvaney two years ago.
"My run in 2008 was rewarding, but my law practice is keeping me very busy these days," Norrell said. "I believe Hugh Mobley has our best interests at heart, and I therefore see no reason to run against him."
Gil Small, head of the Lancaster County Democrats, said he hopes for a return to a small-town politician in the mold of Caldwell T. "Red" Hinson, who held the seat for nearly three decades before Gregory took office in 1993.
"If you needed to file a hunting license, Red would take it to Columbia with him and take it to the Wildlife Office," Small said. "People would love to have somebody like that."