The 5th District ballot is set for the special election to succeed Republican Mick Mulvaney in Congress.
Seven Republicans, three Democrats and five third-party candidates filed for the 5th District race before Monday’s noon filing deadline.
A third Democrat joined the race. Meanwhile, a GOP candidate dropped out, endorsing a third-party challenger.
Democrat Les Murphy announced his candidacy over the weekend. The Indian Land Marine veteran works with the nonprofit Carolina Veterans Commission.
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Murphy’s own announcement notes he is a “political unknown” but contends his eight years in the Marines and work with the veterans community could make him a “potential favorite” with military voters.
On the GOP side, former congressional candidate Ray Craig became the seventh candidate to file.
Craig, a former nonprofit aid worker, won 21 percent of the vote in his 2016 GOP primary challenge against Mulvaney, who resigned to join the Trump administration. Now, Craig hopes he can capitalize on his name recognition in the district.
“I thought to defer to the old lions in (Tommy) Pope and (Ralph) Norman,” Craig said, referring to the two York County GOP legislators running for the seat. “But if you’re going to drain the swamp, you don’t send one of two swamp monsters up there.”
The other Republican candidates are: former S.C. GOP chairman Chad Connelly of Newberry; anti-Common Core education activist Sheri Few of Lugoff; Camden attorney and S.C. State Guard commander Tom Mullikin; former state Rep. Norman; S.C. House Speaker Pro Tempore Pope; and Indian Land attorney Kris Wampler.
Meanwhile, Penry Gustafson, who previously announced, dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, endorsing American Party candidate Josh Thornton, a Rock Hill educator.
Gustafson said she thought running as a Republican would be the only viable way to win in South Carolina but, ultimately, decided the small, centrist American Party was a better fit for her moderate beliefs. “The American Party addresses our growing political dysfunction and offers more choices for the voting public.”
Thornton won’t be the only third-party candidate on the ballot.
David Kulma will be the Green Party candidate, and 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Bill Bledsoe has filed for both the Libertarian and Constitution Party nominations. Bledsoe faces a challenge from two other Libertarian candidates, Nathaniel Cooper and Victor Kocher, the party’s 2014 Senate nominee.
Primary elections will be held May 2. Voters will pick their congressman in a special election June 20.
RUNNING FOR JOE NEAL’S SEAT?
10 candidates — nine Democrats and one Republican — have filed to run for the S.C. House District 70 seat previously held by the late Joe Neal.
▪ Wendy Brawley, former Richland 1 school board member
▪ Erin Vance Brown, a WFMV radio broadcaster
▪ Heath Hill, farmer and electric co-op board member
▪ Norman Jackson Jr., son of Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson Sr.
▪ Patrick Morris, an Army veteran
▪ Harry Reese Sr., a social worker
▪ Levola S. Taylor, a retired state employee
▪ Bill Strickland, a Sumter veteran and the lone Republican
▪ Jermaine H. Walker, Sumter County utility worker and pastor
▪ George B. Wilson, son of former state Rep. George Wilson