Republican Rice wins new 7th District; incumbents reclaim seats

gnsmith@thestate.comNovember 7, 2012 

Tom Rice Victory Party

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters at Longbeards Bar & Grill in Carolina Forest, Tom Rice and his wife, Wrenzie,celebrate his win in the U.S. House District 7 race to become the first congressman for three newly created seat. Republican, Rice defeated Democratic challenger, Gloria Bromell Tinubu.__11/06/12__Photo by Charles Slate

CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com

  • U.S. House, District 7 249 of 318 of precincts reporting Tom Rice, GOP – 113,262 votes Gloria Bromell Tinubu, Democrat – 94,979 votes

— The GOP will continue to dominate the S.C. congressional delegation as Republican Tom Rice won Tuesday over Democrat Gloria Bromell Tinubu to represent the state’s newly drawn 7th District in Congress.

The state’s other five Republican congressmen also breezed to re-election as did the state’s lone Democrat.

•  U.S. Rep. Tim Scott won re-election in the Lowcountry’s 1st District as did fellow U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson in District 2, which includes parts of the Midlands; Jeff Duncan in District 3 in western South Carolina; Trey Gowdy in District 4 in the Upstate; and Mick Mulvaney in District 5, which includes Rock Hill and northern South Carolina.

•  U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Columbia Democrat, won re-election in District 6, which runs from Columbia to the Charleston coast.

“The people understood we need smaller government, less taxes and less regulation,” Rice said late Tuesday. “We need to reduce the cost of business and grow jobs.”

Horry County Council chairman Rice, a retired tax lawyer and accountant, stressed job growth, reducing the national debt and reining in federal spending on the campaign trail.

The new eight-county district, which includes the Pee Dee region and the state’s northeast coast, represented a rare opportunity for the state’s Democrats to grow their numbers in Congress – a chance lost Tuesday.

“Democrats did have a shot at this race if everything went the right way and, clearly, it didn’t,” said Lachlan McIntosh, a Democratic consultant who ran the aborted race of state Rep. Ted Vick for the new congressional seat.

Because of the district’s demographics – about 30 percent African-American – S.C. politicos said the district was custom-made for a moderate Republican or a moderate-to-conservative Democrat.

While Republicans nominated and steadily pushed moderate Rice, an unexpected chain of events led to progressive Tinubu, a teaching assistant at Coastal Carolina University, winning the Democratic nomination instead of one of her moderate opponents.

Vick, D-Chesterfield, dropped out of the primary after being arrested on a drunken driving charge. Tinubu also won a June runoff over moderate Preston Brittain, an Horry County attorney.

A Supreme Court ruling also kicked hundreds of would-be candidates off the June primary ballot because they had failed to properly fill out paperwork. As a result, many of the voters who showed up for June’s primary day were more progressive than originally anticipated by Democrats. And they overwhelmingly chose Tinubu, who had courted their vote by supporting labor unions, President Barack Obama and federal health care reform.

Tinubu was not able to win enough support from moderate and independent voters in Tuesday’s general election, losing badly.

But Democrats say the battle to control the new district is not over. Rice is up for re-election in 2014.

“It’s a seat that is competitive, and Democrats have another chance in two years to win it,” McIntosh said.

Reach Smith at (803) 771-8658.

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