Politics & Government

Race to fill Trey Gowdy's SC seat in Congress draws a crowd of candidates

House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. arrives for a meeting with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and the committee as the committee probes Russia's election meddling and possible ties to Trump's campaign.
House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. arrives for a meeting with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and the committee as the committee probes Russia's election meddling and possible ties to Trump's campaign. AP

A crowded field of candidates is lining up to run for the Upstate congressional seat that U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy will relinquish.

Five Republican candidates have jumped into the race in the week since Gowdy said he will not seek re-election, instead resuming his law practice. Gowdy, a 53-year-old Republican, was a state solicitor and federal prosecutor before being elected in 2010 to represent South Carolina's right-leaning 4th District, which includes Greenville and Spartanburg.

The GOP candidates include: attorney Stephen Brown, who is a former chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party; Greer resident Jordan Brown; state Rep. Dan Hamilton of Greenville; Spartanburg County teacher J. Alan Ruff; and state Sen. William Timmons of Greenville.

Jordan Brown, Ruff and Timmons have filed paperwork declaring their candidacies with the Federal Election Commission. Stephen Brown and Hamilton disclosed their plans to run at a Greenville County Republican Party meeting earlier this week.

At least three other Republicans — Spartanburg County Clerk of Court Hope Blackley, former state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg County and Spartanburg County Republican Party chairman Josh Kimbrell — are thinking about joining the race.

Blackley and Kimbrell said they will make their decisions within a few days. Bright said he also intends to make up his mind soon.

Another Republican from Spartanburg County, former state GOP chair Karen Floyd, has not ruled out running, a spokesman said.

Three prominent Upstate Republicans — former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, 13th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins and Greenville Mayor Knox White — will stay on the sidelines.

Four Democrats will seek the seat.

They include: Chris Chastain, an electrician from Walhalla; Simpsonville businessman J.T. Davis; Greenville graduate student Will Morin; and Greenville finance expert Lee Turner.

Each of the Democrats is seeking elective office for the first time.

At this point, Morin has the most campaign cash of any candidate for Gowdy's seat — $292, records show. However, Timmons said he is prepared to contribute up to $500,000 of his own money in his bid for the seat and other candidates are expected to raise sizable sums.

Nate Leupp, current chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party, said he anticipates a fiercely competitive contest in the June GOP primary for Gowdy's seat.

"They are all great candidates," he said. "It is going to be hard for voters to choose."

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