Black SC Republican wins runoff; an overview of all SC races

Tim Scott
Tim Scott

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina voters chose the state's lone black Republican legislator over the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond and booted a six-term GOP incumbent from office in a series of congressional primary runoff elections Tuesday.

Tim Scott, the first black GOP South Carolina state lawmaker in more than a century, defeated attorney and Charleston County councilman Paul Thurmond in his bid to become the state's first black Republican congressman since the 1800s. Both men had discounted the historical implications of their bids to replace retiring Rep. Henry Brown, preferring instead to focus on criticism of federal spending.

Scott faces Democrat Ben Frasier in November, but the district has been in GOP hands for three decades. Scott could become the first black Republican in Congress since Oklahoma's J.C. Watts retired in 2003. Some national Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have endorsed him.

Scott's dozen years on Charleston County Council and his term in the state House were enough to get Robert Shuler's vote.

"He had a record and Thurmond didn't have anything. You've got to have a track record. You've got to have a background — we've got a president of the United States right now who is only fit to be a dog catcher," said Shuler, a 61-year-old retired defense department engineer from Mount Pleasant.

Elsewhere, GOP Rep. Bob Inglis lost his bid for a seventh term to popular prosecutor Trey Gowdy.

Inglis, long respected in the ultraconservative 4th District that includes Greenville and Spartanburg, fell on tough times thanks to moves that riled his constituents and an anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the nation. In a five-way primary, Inglis won 27 percent of the vote after challengers focused ire over his support for the 2008 financial bailout and his suggestion voters turn off the TV when Glenn Beck appeared.

Gowdy, chief prosecutor for Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, trounced the incumbent. He said if experience were the only thing that mattered, no challenger would ever win. He said voters unhappy with the country's direction are willing to consider someone new.

Gowdy's call to shake up Congress connected with Everett Fuller of Greenville.

"Like so many other Americans, I think there needs to be a change in Washington," said Fuller, a 56-year-old physician. "We're sick of the way this country is being run."

But Inglis still had support from some conservatives, like Paul Aiesi, a 34-year-old commercial real estate investment manager from Greenville.

"Nobody can argue with his conservative credentials," Aiesi said. "I think he got a bad rap on the TARP vote. It was probably the right vote even though it was not politically popular."

Gowdy will face Democrat Paul Corden of Spartanburg in November.

Along the state's western line, a political unknown who owns a fleet of ice cream trucks faces a state lawmaker for the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.

Businessman Richard Cash, of Powdersville, and state Rep. Jeff Duncan, of Laurens, were competing for a chance at the seat left open by Barrett's run for governor. The winner will face FedEx pilot and former Air Force Capt. Jane Dyer of Easley in November.

Scott and Duncan, a four-term lawmaker, are among only 12 candidates nationwide endorsed by Washington-based Club for Growth, which promotes reducing taxes, budget reform and free trade. On Tuesday, the group said donations from its members and political action committee totaled more than $313,000 for Scott and nearly $400,000 for Duncan.

Cash, who held a lead of less than 2,000 votes in the primary, has alleged the outside influence is trying to buy the race, which Duncan denies.

In a race where little separated candidates' platforms, the men have sought to outflank each other on the right. Cash, a father of eight who formerly worked full-time for an anti-abortion group, says he wants to be a leader in opposing abortion.

In the state's majority black 6th District, two Republicans were vying for the chance to challenge powerful U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Nancy Harrelson, who was trounced by Clyburn in 2008, was in a runoff with political newcomer James Pratt.


Associated Press Writers Page Ivey in Greenville and Seanna Adcox in Columbia contributed to this report.