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Who is Trey Gowdy backing in SC Congress runoff?

Trey Gowdy
Trey Gowdy

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy isn’t waiting for the results of the runoff race in South Carolina’s 5th District race.

The congressman from the neighboring 4th District has endorsed S.C. Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope for the GOP nomination in the special election for Congress. Pope faces former legislator Ralph Norman in the May 16 runoff.

In his endorsement, Gowdy recalled working with Pope when both men were prosecutors.

“Fifteen years ago I was a brand new prosecutor in the Upstate of South Carolina trying to work with law enforcement, help victims get justice and preserve public safety,” Gowdy said.

“But I needed help. Lots of it. And another prosecutor from the Upstate of South Carolina – named Tommy Pope – gave and lent me counsel, advice, support, and the full weight of his own experience in law enforcement and prosecution.”

“I need his help again, this time in the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said.

On Tuesday, Pope and Norman were neck-and-neck atop the seven-person Republican primary. Less than 200 votes and 0.3 percentage points separated Pope and Norman in the first round. Because neither won more than 50 percent of the vote, they have to face each other one-on-one to decide the nominee.

Responding to the endorsement, Norman tried to draw a distinction between Gowdy’s career after leaving the prosecutor’s office and Pope’s.

“Gowdy has spent his career fighting for conservative causes,” Norman said, “but Pope has spent his time suing small businesses in our community.”

“Gowdy has an ‘A’ lifetime average from the Club for Growth for his commitment to limited government and fiscal responsibility,” said R.J. May III, Norman’s communications director. “Pope has an ‘F’ for his insatiable appetite for wastefully spending and raising taxes.”

Pope’s campaign reiterated Gowdy’s personal judgment of the York Republican’s abilities as a potential congressman.

“Trey Gowdy has known Tommy his entire career,” said Pope spokesman Jon Kohan. “He’s seen his ability to get things done first hand and knows that he will be a force for conservative change in Washington. That’s why he endorsed Tommy Pope.”

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