The first high-profile salvo in the race for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District seat is expected to come Sept. 12 in Fort Mill, where Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for his former aide Fran Person, the Democrat challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney.
The public won’t get to see or hear the candidate without shelling out $250 – the cost per person to attend the fundraiser at the White Homestead on S.C. 160. Person, a former University of South Carolina football player who lives in Tega Cay, was a longtime aide to Biden.
Jim Thompson, chairman of the York County Democratic Party, said Biden’s visit will get voters “excited and enthused,” and that he believes both the congressional race and presidential race are winnable by Democrats – despite Republicans’ having won both in South Carolina for years.
“This is an important election,” Thompson said, “and up and down the ticket we believe we can carry South Carolina.”
Although the Sept. 12 event is not a public appearance, Thompson said he expects a public Biden event in York County before the November election.
Joel Hamilton, York County Republican Party chairman, said York County’s growing population – to more than a quarter-million people – and its economic power are becoming more and more important in political races.
“I love to see the attention national political figures are paying to York County,” Hamilton said.
York County remains firmly Republican, Hamilton said, and Biden’s visit will remind conservatives about the importance of keeping Mulvaney in Congress and supporting Republicans.
Mulvaney unseated three-decade Democratic incumbent John Spratt of York in 2010 and handily won re-election in 2012 and 2014. He has painted Person as a Washington insider who came to South Carolina just to run for office.
“The best thing Fran Person can do for Mick Mulvaney is bring Joe Biden to town,” Hamilton said.
In a statement, Mulvaney said Person’s ties to the Obama administration are clear.
“It’s no surprise that Vice President Biden will make the trip to South Carolina to fundraise for my opponent,” Mulvaney said. “After all, my opponent has spent most of his career working for the Obama Administration.
“One thing is clear: (Fifth District) voters have rejected the failed policies of the Obama administration – bigger government, higher taxes, and Obamacare to name a few – and his campaign is a walking billboard for more of the same.”
Polls suggest that the Fifth District race is tightening because of money pouring in for Person in a district that has become more conservative over the past two decades. Democrats say the presidential race – in which Republican Donald Trump has lost ground to Democrat Hillary Clinton in South Carolina polls – is now in play statewide.
S.C. Republicans maintain that the district and the presidency remain squarely in their column.
Want to go?
To buy tickets to the Sept. 12 fundraiser for Fran Person, at which Vice President Joe Biden will speak, go to bit.ly/2bP5U1y.