More than a decade after he came up short in his last bid for Congress, the second time was the charm Tuesday for Ralph Norman.
Norman was elected to fill South Carolina’s vacant 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, almost 11 years after the former GOP state legislator lost to then-U.S. Rep. John Spratt, a Democrat, in 2006.
Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell of Sumter, along with three minor party candidates, to win the 5th District seat. The district cover the north central portion of the state — from the Charlotte suburbs to the Midlands, including part or all of Fairfield, Kershaw, Newberry and Sumter counties.
Special elections have been treacherous for Republicans since the GOP won control of the White House and both chambers of Congress last November. Stumbles by President Donald Trump and a surge in opposition to the Republican among newly invigorated Democratic voters have made formerly deep-red GOP districts suddenly competitive.
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Even in the 5th District Tuesday, results were closer than former U,S, Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s 20-point GOP win last November. Mulvaney later resigned from Congress when he was named Trump’s budget director.
Democrats had hoped to replicate swings in other GOP districts in the 5th District, and they did. Earlier this year, Democratic candidates suffered narrow defeats in otherwise safe Republican districts in Kansas and Montana, Also, on Tuesday, Democrats were hoping to pull out in a win in a Georgia district represented by a Republican for decades.
The 5th District was redrawn after Republican Mulvaney won the seat from Democrat Spratt in 2010. Since then, the former Democratic stronghold produced double-digit wins for Mulvaney, joining six of South Carolina’s seven congressional districts in becoming more Republican.
“I’m happy we ran such an honorable, straightforward, upstanding race,” Parnell said Tuesday. “I’m very thankful for all the volunteers who worked so hard.”
Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs tax adviser, offered his congratulations to Norman, adding he hoped the millionaire real-estate developer would “listen to the views of all the people of the 5th District.”
Election officials said turnout was light in the district Tuesday. Besides being scheduled in an off-year and during summer vacation, voters also had to contend with rain throughout much of election day.
But the weather didn’t dampen the spirits at Norman’s watch party in Rock Hill, where the candidate had two reasons to be happy.
Norman’s victory Tuesday coincided with his birthday.
97 percent of precincts reporting
Ralph Norman (R): 51 percent
Archie Parnell (D): 48 percent
Victor Kocher (Lib): 0 percent
David Kulma (Grn): 0 percent
Josh Thornton (Amer): 0 percent