After Tuesday’s 5th District vote — a virtual tie — the top two candidates in the Republican race for Congress will be looking to pick up voters from their former opponents as they race to their May 16 runoff.
About 30 percent of 5th District Republicans voted for state Rep. Tommy Pope; another 30 percent voted for former state Rep. Ralph Norman.
However, the deciding votes in the May 16 runoff will come from the other 40 percent of GOP primary voters, who cast their ballots for one of the five other candidates running to succeed former U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land.
When all the votes were counted Tuesday, Pope finished less than 200 votes ahead of Norman. The two candidates — both from York County — narrowly split their home county: 42 percent for Pope and 41 percent for Norman.
As they mine for votes, Pope and Norman will have their eyes on supporters of Tom Mullikin and Chad Connelly, who finished third and fourth, respectively.
Mullikin, a Camden businessman making his first run for public office, was the biggest surprise in Tuesday’s voting, taking 20 percent of the vote. Mullikin dominated the southeastern portion of the district: winning 54 percent of the vote in his home county of Kershaw, a majority in nearby Sumter County and a plurality in Lee County.
Connelly probably was the biggest underperformer Tuesday. The former S.C. GOP chairman took only 14 percent of the vote, finishing fourth. However, he won his home county — Newberry — with 64 percent and was runner up in five other counties.
Neither Connelly nor Mullikin made an immediate endorsement after Tuesday’s seven-person GOP race. Attempts to reach both Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The winner will take on Archie Parnell, the Democratic nominee. A former adviser to Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil, the Sumter native coalesced the support of prominent S.C. Democrats to easily dispatch two opponents in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, taking 71 percent of the vote.
While the 5th District has been Republican since 2011, the Republican National Congressional Committee was quick to attack Parnell Wednesday.
“Wonder if the Bernie Sanders resistance groups will get behind Parnell considering he’s a former Goldman Sachs executive?” the group asked rhetorically on its web site.
The GOP race in the 5th
The top 2 finishers in Tuesday’s GOP primary in each county; a runoff will be held May 16 between Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman
Cherokee (1): Norman, 30 percent; Tom Mullikin, 23 percent
Chester: Pope, 38 percent; Norman, 30.5 percent
Fairfield: Pope, 30.5 percent; Chad Connelly, 29 percent
Kershaw: Mullikin, 54 percent; Connelly, 14 percent
Lancaster: Norman, 36 percent; Pope, 26 percent
Lee: Mullikin, 47 percent; Connelly, 24 percent
Newberry (1): Connelly, 64 percent; Pope, 14 percent
Spartanburg (1): Mullikin, 28 percent; Norman, 21 percent
Sumter (1): Mullikin, 50.3 percent; Connelly, 23 percent
Union: Pope, 31 percent; Connelly, 25 percent
York: Pope, 42 percent; Norman, 41 percent
(1) County only partially in 5th District
SOURCE: S.C. Election Commission