Thurmond considers candidacy for state Senate seat

COLUMBIA -- Strom Thurmond Jr., son of the S.C. political icon, is considering a bid for the state Senate.

"I am considering running, and I've received a lot of encouragement," Thurmond, 34, told The State on Wednesday.

The former U.S. attorney, now a lawyer with a private practice in Aiken, declined to comment further.

If Thurmond runs, it will be as a Republican in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by Tommy Moore's resignation Saturday. Moore, the unsuccessful 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, resigned to take a position with a national payday lending trade association.

While Moore held the seat as a Democrat for 27 years, his state Senate district and the Aiken region have been trending steadily Republican.

Fellow Republicans were quick to endorse the idea of a Thurmond candidacy.

"The Thurmond name is the gold standard in South Carolina Republican circles," S.C. GOP chairman Katon Dawson said. "Strom Thurmond Jr. is a wonderful young man and would make an excellent senator."

Thus far, only state Rep. Bill Clyburn, an Aiken Democrat, has said he running for Moore's seat, said state Rep. Skipper Perry, R-Aiken. Perry thinks fellow Republican Thurmond would "be a favorable candidate."

Thurmond's father was a state senator, state judge, governor and U.S. senator for more than 70 years. He was elected to the state Senate in a special election in the 1930s, after four years as Aiken County's schools superintendent.

Thurmond Jr. has one immediate hurdle to clear before he becomes a candidate: He doesn't live in the district, Senate District 25. He lives near the district, in Aiken County. The S.C. Constitution requires a candidate to live in the district when he or she files for the election.

Candidates can file to run for the seat from July 27 through Aug. 6. Party primaries will be held Sept. 18, with runoffs Oct. 2 if needed. The election will be Nov. 6.

"I don't know how many of his father's genes he has as far as campaigning," Rep. Perry said of Thurmond Jr., "but whoever he runs against is going to have to get up really, really early in the morning and stay up late at night."