New U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill was sworn into office Monday as South Carolina’s newest member of Congress.
Norman, a Republican, won a special election last week to fill the vacancy created when former 5th District U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, also a Republican, was chosen as the White House budget director.
Norman said he was joining the House “at a special time in history.” He told his colleagues that “we’ve got such an opportunity, and I look forward to playing a part in working with you to move this country forward.”
Norman got about 51 percent of the vote against Sumter Democrat Archie Parnell in the special election in a district that went for President Donald Trump last year by 18 percentage points.
Norman, who had resigned his seat in the S.C. House to run for Congress, ran a campaign aligning himself with Trump and is expected to join the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-right lawmakers who are sometimes a thorn in the side of GOP leaders. His predecessor, Mulvaney helped found the group.
Meanwhile, the Republican winner of the most expensive House race ever took her seat representing Atlanta’s outskirts on Monday.
Karen Handel won the closely watched Georgia election by a 52-48 margin last week after a lengthy campaign. Handel’s opponent, first-time candidate Jon Ossoff, raised $23 million for the race and narrowly led in most polls.
Monday evening’s swearing-in ceremony returned Republicans to full strength in the chamber at 241 seats after four special elections to replace lawmakers who left the House to join Trump’s Cabinet. But in every case Democrats outperformed the recent trends in the districts, which were all solidly Republican. The Georgia seat went only narrowly for Trump last year, even though it solidly backed Tom Price, who resigned to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The only remaining House vacancy is a Los Angeles seat formerly held by Democrat Xavier Becerra, who resigned in January to become California’s attorney general. Democratic state Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez easily retained the seat for the party in an election earlier this month, and will assume his seat after completing some remaining state business.