South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District voters will seek today to “flip the 5th” blue or keep it red, in conservative hands, as voters take to the polls for this special congressional election.
The election will determine who fills the seat of Mick Mulvaney. He left congress to become President Donald Trump’s budget director. The Republican candidate, and favorite, is Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill real estate developer who has served in the S.C. House of Representatives for a decade. He has tied himself to promoting Trump’s agenda. Archie Parnell, the Democratic candidate from Sumter, is a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs. He has vowed to resist Trump.
Both races have become referendums on the new administration, but national experts believe Georgia’s district is more likely to flip than South Carolina’s. The campaign for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, has overshadowed the simultaneous campaign in South Carolina’s 5th District. The Georgia race has seen more than $56 million spent on advertisements, fliers, and commercials.
A recent poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimates that Ossoff holds a seven-point edge.
Meanwhile in South Carolina, an internal Democratic poll of voters found Parnell trailing by 10 points.
Special elections are notorious for low turnout, according to Winthrop University political science professor Scott Huffmon. He said this race is expected to be highly partisan, and will depend on strong voter participation, both in absentee and election day voting.
Some signs with the words “Vote Republican” have recently popped up in York County.
Huffmon said it’s possible the move is to rally troops who initally preferred GOP candidates other than Norman.
“(Norman) has to just turn out the base,” Huffmon said. “What Archie has to do is convince the independents to come out, all of the Democrats to come out, and for some disaffected Republicans to go his way. It’s a tough road for him.”
Huffmon said it’s a mistake to compare Georgia’s 6th District, which is largely white and middle-to-upper class, with S.C.’s Fifth, which is more diverse.
“If Georgia’s 6th ends up being a Democrat win, that’s a win for them,” Huffmon said. “Even if South Carolina (Democrats lose) by 5 or 10 points, they’ve got a lot to take forward with them into the future with the 2018 mid-terms.
What’s this election all about?
Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, defeated his most recent Democrat challenger Fran Person by 20 points last November.
There are seven congressional districts in South Carolina -- Republicans controlled six prior to Mulvaney’s election in 2010. The 5th District was solidly Democratic for 28 years under former U.S. Rep. John Spratt.
Who’s running? How did we get here?
Norman is the GOP’s nominee after surviving a bruising 7-person primary. He barely squeaked by State Rep. Tommy Pope, the speaker pro tempore of the S.C. House of Representatives, in a runoff.
Parnell quickly became the local Democratic party favorite, and defeated two others in last month’s primary.
There also are a few third-party candidates making their case to voters, including the Green Party’s David Kulma, American Party candidate Josh Thornton, and the Libertarian Party’s Victor Kocher.
How can I vote?
You can find out where your polling location is by using SCVotes.org and clicking this link and filling out a short form.
SCVotes.org can help voters check their registration, get a sample ballot, find their polling place, and check an absentee or provisional ballot.
Am I in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District?
The answer is yes, if you live in the South Carolina counties of Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Newberry, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union or York.
Make sure to check where you can vote, because some polling places may have changed.
Where will the candidates be on Election Day?
Norman will host a watch party at The Magnolia Room on Laurel Creek in Rock Hill, while Parnell will be at Serendipity Catering and Cafe on Main Street in Sumter.
Are there any other elections I need to watch?
Yes. Republican Bruce Bryant and Democrat Bebs Barron Chorak are campaigning for House 48 in the S.C. General Assembly. The election was triggered after Norman resigned from his seat to run for Congress.
District 48 covers large portions of Rock Hill and Fort Mill.
When can I vote on June 20?
All polling locations will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day on Tuesday, June 20.
To check your polling location, log on to SCVotes.org or call your local county Board of Elections office. You can contact the York County Board of Voter Registration and Elections at 803-684-1242.