A challenger to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott from the newly formed American Party says Scott has contributed to “gridlock” and “political extremism” in Washington by siding with the tea party’s “far right” agenda.
A spokeswoman for Scott’s campaign, however, said he’s been “working hard every day for the people of South Carolina” and his “priority remains unchanged.”
Jill Bossi, a 54-year-old corporate executive from the York County community of Tega Cay, said she jumped into the race because she’s tired of unproductive polarization between the two major political parties.
“I got to a point where I was just fed up with the gridlock that was in Washington between the Democrats and the Republicans, and always hearing about the far right and the far left and the arguments that they were having with one another and the absolute inability to sit down and talk through their differences and find a workable solution,” she said.
The American Party was formed just last year by Jim Rex, a former Democratic state superintendent of education from the Winnsboro area, and Oscar Lovelace, a Prosperity physician who once ran against Mark Sanford in the Republican gubernatorial primary.
They have said the party would “govern from the middle” and abide by term limits.
Bossi said her priorities include simplifying the tax code and “making healthcare more affordable without invasive government regulations.”
She has worked as an executive for big corporations such as Bank of America and Verizon Wireless and is now chief procurement officer for the American Red Cross, working out of the charity’s Charlotte office.
Bossi said she knows she’s an underdog as a third-party candidate with no political experience running against a nationally known Republican incumbent in a GOP-leaning state.
Scott’s campaign reported having more than $3 million in cash as of the end of the year, while Bossi said she’s just begun to raise money.
“While we have a very, very steep hill to climb, we’ve laced on our shoes, and we’re ready to climb that hill,” she said.
Jordan Ragusa, a professor of political science at the College of Charleston, said running against gridlock in Washington may be a popular message, but most voters won’t take the time to find out what the American Party stands for.
Most voters instead will opt for a Republican or a Democrat “because those are the two parties that they know something about,” Ragusa said.
Until Bossi announced her campaign on Monday, Scott’s only opponent was Joyce Dickerson, a Democrat who’s on Richland County Council and who reported having $4,664 in campaign cash at the end of the year.
Dickerson said Monday she was “going forward because I believe in my party, and I believe in the platform of my party.”
A second Democrat, former Barack Obama campaign aide and U.S. Commerce Department official Rick Wade, dropped out of the race earlier this month, citing fund-raising problems.
Bossi cited Scott’s vote against the debt deal that ended the partial federal government shutdown in October as evidence of his political extremism.
Scott opposed the compromise measure amid tea party calls to “defund Obamacare,” President Obama’s healthcare reform law, as the price of raising the nation’s debt ceiling again.
Scott “has really signed onto the tea party and all that it stands for” and “that does not contribute to a reasonable dialogue between intelligent adults,” Bossi told The Greenville News.
As for Dickerson, Bossi said she doesn’t know much about her. But Bossi said national Democrats don’t seem interested in South Carolina since they didn’t fund the Wade or Dickerson campaigns.
“So there’s a real clear message that’s being sent by the national party to a state like South Carolina in that they don’t feel that we’re worth their time or money,” Bossi said.
Scott was a member of the U.S. House from Charleston when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him in late 2012 to replace former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who quit the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
The election is Nov. 4.