Katie Arrington, who lost what should be a safe Republican seat to freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) after surviving a life-threatening car accident soon after winning nomination, will not return for a 2020 re-match. Yesterday, it was announced that Ms. Arrington has been appointed as the Pentagon’s Chief Information Security Officer, a position that re-locates her to the Washington, DC area. The major candidates in the congressional race, a contest that will certainly be a top national GOP challenger race, are state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and Beaufort County Councilman and entrepreneur Mike Covert.
Monmouth and Quinnipiac Universities released new state polls in places where we haven’t yet seen much data. Monmouth (7/18-22; 405 SC likely Democratic primary voters) tested the South Carolina electorate, site of the fourth nomination event scheduled for February 29th. Here, as we’re seeing in many of the tested southern states, former Vice President Joe Biden posts a substantial advantage, leading 39-12-10-9-5% over Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Quinnipiac released what may be the first poll of the Ohio electorate (7/17-22; 556 OH Democratic registered voters) in anticipation of this state’s March 10th primary, and also finds Mr. Biden enjoying a healthy lead. Here, the former VP registers 31% support followed by Sens. Sanders, Harris, Warren, and Mayor Buttigieg who record 14, 14, 13, and 6% preference, respectively.
Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison, who formed a US Senate exploratory committee in February, announced yesterday that he will become a full-fledged candidate against Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R).
Any real threat to Sen. Graham comes in the Republican primary, but he appears secure for re-election. At this point in time, no major Republican has declared his or her candidacy. According to the Morning Consult national Senate rankings, Sen. Graham scores a 52:31% favorability index, the 13th highest of the body’s 100 members.
Ten-term House incumbent Joe Wilson (R-Springdale/Columbia) has had little trouble winning re-election in his Columbia/Lexington County anchored district, but he has already drawn an opponent for next year’s general election.
Yesterday, Adair Boroughs, the Executive Director of Charleston Legal Aide an affiliated group of the South Carolina Legal Services Corporation, announced that she will challenge the Congressman. Though Charleston is not in the 2nd District, Ms. Boroughs resides in Columbia. Rep. Wilson again remains a heavy favorite to win again in 2020, but Ms. Boroughs likely has fundraising capability that could cause the Congressman to spend advertising money.
WPA Intelligence, surveying for the Conservatives for Clean Energy organization (3/11-13; 500 SC likely voters), finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) comfortably leading his principal announced Democratic opponent, former state Party chair Jamie Harrison. The numbers suggest the Senator would hold a sizable 55-32% advantage still more than one year before primary challenges are held.
WPAi did not release Republican primary numbers, which is likely the Senator’s greater test. Regardless, it appears Mr. Graham’s political position is enhanced throughout the state and his standing within the SC GOP much improved.
The Trafalgar Group recently conducted a survey (1/28-2/1; 2,479 SC-1 likely GOP primary voters; automated) among potential Republican congressional candidates who may battle for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston), a surprise 2018 winner. The seat promises to be at the top of the GOP conversion target list for the entire 2020 election cycle.
2018 GOP nominee Katie Arrington, who denied then-Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) re-nomination but lost to Cunningham in the general election, tops the large field of tested candidates. With Mr. Sanford included, she would lead him 25-23% with the nine other named potential candidates all falling well below 10 percent. Without Sanford in the field, she would touch 31% with state Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) leading the rest but with only 8% support. If Arrington is not included, Mr. Sanford almost reaches 37% with all of the others below the double-digit mark.
Mark Sanford, the former Governor and Congressman, has not indicated whether or not he would attempt to regain his former congressional seat.
Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison has filed an exploratory committee for a US Senate run. At this point, most of the potential candidates are Republican looking to attempt to deny Sen. Graham re-nomination, which is his greatest threat. None of the candidates appear strong, though former gubernatorial candidate and Greenville businessman John Warren (R) lurks in the wings continuing to be mentioned as a potential candidate. At this point, Sen. Graham looks strong for re-nomination and re-election.
In what will likely be the first of many Republican campaign announcements against freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston), Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert (R) became the initial person to become an official candidate with his public declaration over the weekend. Also expected to run is 2018 GOP nominee Katie Arrington, a former state Representative who lost to Mr. Cunningham, 51-49%, in a major upset result.
Former Congressman and ex-Governor Mark Sanford, who lost to Arrington in last year’s Republican primary, remains noncommittal about his future political plans. This race will be considered a pure toss-up.
Yesterday, Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert (R) confirmed that he is considering running for the 1st Congressional District seat that Democrat Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) wrestled away from the Republicans last month.
State Rep. Katie Arrington (R), who lost to Cunningham after denying Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) re-nomination and was then involved in a serious automobile accident that landed her in the hospital for an extended stay, is likely to run again and Mr. Covert was already drawing a distinction between he and the 2018 nominee over the important off-shore oil drilling issue that was a large reason for Cunningham’s upset victory. Additionally, Rep. Sanford has yet to confirm or deny any interest in running again.
Though the South Carolina primary is one of the first four nominating events in the presidential cycle and commonly known as the “First in the South” primary, the Republicans may not schedule this voting event in 2020.
Doing so would not be unprecedented. The state Republican Party followed a similar course in 2004 to ensure that President George W. Bush had no impediment to obtaining unified support from the South Carolina delegation. Because of President Trump’s demonstrated strength in this state, party leaders are considering again following such a course. In any event, the Democratic primary will definitely be held and likely scheduled for February 29th.
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