More national attention is being focused on South Carolina’s special election in the 5th Congressional District district, pitting Rock Hill Republican Ralph Norman against Sumter Democrat Archie Parnell.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will appear with fellow Democrat Parnell in Rock Hill on Saturday, along with Tom Perez, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
O’Malley ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and might be planning another bid in 2020. The former governor’s visit to South Carolina, an early-voting primary state, also includes a speech at a Greenville Democratic dinner.
The intervention of Democratic outsiders in the 5th District – Republican since 2010 – failed to impress Republicans.
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Maddie Anderson with the National Republican Congressional Committee called it an “odd strategy” to have a “few faces of the Resistance movement campaigning for a Democrat vying for a seat in a ruby-red district.”
“Clearly, this is the best Archie Parnell could do,” she said, “a token pat on the head from Democratic ‘leadership.’ ”
However, GOP nominee Norman, a former state representative, has enjoyed the support of outside supporters, too.
Republican U.S Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another former presidential candidate who might be looking ahead to 2020 or 2024, campaigned for Norman before his GOP primary win over state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York. It is unclear whether Cruz plans another run through South Carolina before the June 20 special election.
Will they or won’t they?
With just two-plus weeks to go until that special election, both major party candidates are campaigning across the 11-county district, which includes all of York, Chester and Lancaster counties.
But it’s uncertain whether residents will be able to see a debate between Norman and Parnell. Norman might have little incentive to risk a face-to-face meeting.
Twice as many Republicans voted in May’s GOP primary as in the Democratic contest, and even Parnell’s polls show the libertarian, tea party-leaning Republican leading by 10 percentage points.
This week, the Rock Hill NAACP announced a June 9 candidates’ forum, saying it would feature Norman, Parnell and Green Party candidate David Kulma.
But Norman’s campaign said it had not committed to the forum. Scheduling conflicts could keep the former S.C. legislator from participating, the campaign said.
Steve Love of the Western York County NAACP, who is organizing the forum for the state chapter, said the group believes one member received a verbal commitment from Norman to take part. However, Norman’s campaign still has to work out details, he added. “I’m still hopeful he will be able to participate,” Love said.
The AARP of South Carolina also is putting together a debate on June 12, focused on health care and entitlements. The group hasn’t been able to get a firm commitment from the Norman camp. “We would have to have both of them (to hold the event) because we’re a nonpartisan organization,” said Patrick Cobb, AARP’s communications director.
Parnell spokesman Michael Wukela said the Sumter Democrat’s campaign is “excited” about participating in both forums. Norman spokesman R.J. May said the Republican’s campaign is working with different groups to find dates that fit its schedule.