With a month left in their hotly contested U.S. House race, Democratic Rep. John Spratt and Republican challenger Mick Mulvaney will take part in at least two more debates.
The candidates have agreed to an Oct. 12 breakfast forum hosted by the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce. The one-hour session at the Fort Mill Golf Club starts at 7:30 a.m.
A week later, S.C. Educational Television (ETV) will air a pre-recorded debate on Oct. 17 as part of its look at contests around the state. The session will be taped two days in advance.
One more encounter remains possible. Mulvaney agreed to debate Oct. 19 at Bundy Auditorium on the campus of USC Lancaster, campaign manager Erik Bedingfield said Saturday.
Never miss a local story.
The Spratt campaign has not committed, citing a scheduling conflict that must be resolved.
DeMint headlines fundraiser
Mulvaney got a boost Saturday from U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who predicted an "earthquake election" that will sweep conservatives into office Nov. 2.
DeMint spoke to more than 500 people at a Mulvaney fundraiser at Whitesell Farms south of Rock Hill. The event featured barbecue, hay rides and walks down what organizers called "John Spratt's Trail of Doom."
Voters in the 5th District can make a national statement by ousting Spratt, DeMint told the crowd.
"If we can do it here in this district, this is going to be like John Thune knocking off Daschle in the Dakotas," said DeMint, referring to the 2004 defeat of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
"This is going to send a signal to the whole country."
DeMint has emerged as one of Mulvaney's most valuable supporters. Politico reported last week that DeMint transferred $250,000 from his campaign account to the S.C. Republican Party's 2010 Federal Victory account, which is focused solely on Mulvaney's race.
In addition, DeMint has raised another $150,000 for the account, part of his effort to support anti-establishment candidates across the country, Politico reported.
S.C. Democrat joins campaign
Spratt will bring in veteran S.C. Democrat Nu Wexler to help manage communications over the final weeks.
Wexler served as executive director of the state Democratic Party from 2003 to 2005 after a two-year stint as communications director for Democratic Sen. Fritz Hollings.
The fall Congressional recess will allow Wexler to take leave from his post as communications director for the House Education & Labor Committee chaired by Rep. George Miller of California.
Wexler said his mission will be to call attention to Mulvaney's background and ties to outside conservative groups.
"We're going to draw sharp contrasts between John Spratt's service to the district and Mick Mulvaney's Edenmoor land boondoggle," Wexler wrote in an email. "The 5th District isn't for sale to North Carolina developers or Wall Street political action committees."
The Spratt campaign began airing a TV ad last week criticizing Mulvaney for his role in Edenmoor, a failed housing development in northern Lancaster County.
Only a handful of homes and buildings have been completed in the planned community off U.S. 521, while ball fields, streets and sidewalks sit unused and unfinished.
Three liens totaling $2.2 million were filed on the development by contractors who did surveying and water and sewer work, but were never paid, The Lancaster News reported.
Mulvaney has faced criticism from residents and opponents who point out that he convinced Lancaster County Council members to issue $30 million in bonds to make the project possible.
Mulvaney has said he sold his ownership stake in Edenmoor in 2005 and that the only bonds issued were private.