Even before the venerable South Carolina congressional delegation trekked to Columbia to send off Rep. Tim Scott (led by “Scoutmaster” Joe Wilson, we learned), the number of names being floated to replace him in the 1st District was growing larger than the Canadian navy. The names in the race comprise a who’s-who of Charleston-area political families — Sanford, Campbell, Thurmond, another Sanford, Summey — all the greats.
State law says a special primary election must be held within 11 weeks of the office becoming vacant, with a special general election occurring within 18 weeks of the vacancy. Rep. Tim Scott will take over Sen. Jim DeMint’s post after the new year, meaning a general election likely won’t happen until late spring.
Before a third Sanford announces their maybe, kinda, sorta interest in the seat, let’s run through who’s in and who’s out in the latest round of Race to Replace, 1st Congressional District edition.
S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D – Charleston)
Stavrinakis, who’s been on the shortlist for any number of local and statewide offices in recent years, announced Wednesday that he will not seek the Congressional seat. Leon’s name has been in the mix for future runs for governor or mayor of Charleston after Mayor Joe’s retirement in 2015.
S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R – Beaufort)
Sen. Tom Davis (of the Tom Davises of the world), one of the more popular conservative members of the state Senate, has long been a name on S.C. Republicans’ wish lists as a statewide or national candidate, but according to his hometown paper, he’s all-in (apologies to Dabo) on 2013 and isn’t eyeing the 1st. Like Stavrinakis, expect to see Davis’ name high on a ballot soon, though. (Not Charleston, we know, but Davis has made his higher ambitions known.)
Keith Blandford (Libertarian – Mt. Pleasant)
When we last left Mr. Blandford, he was making eyes at a 2014 primary challenge to U.S. Sen Lindsey Graham, but since then, he’s moved on. Blandford, who just last month mounted an unsuccessful bid as a Libertarian for the 1st District, announced earlier this week that he will attempt to run as a “fusion candidate” as both the Republican and Libertarian nominee. But just as before, if he fails to get the nomination of either party — a high likelihood in a crowded GOP field — he’ll be off the ballot completely.
Robert E. “Teddy” Turner (R – Charleston)
Charleston Collegiate School economics teacher Teddy Turner, son of the ‘stached media mogul Ted Turner, announced on Monday that he would make a run for Scott’s seat. Teddy, the “rogue Republican” of his left-leaning family, describes himself in a press release as an “entrepreneur, conservationist, and maritime enthusiast.”
Former Sen. John Kuhn (R – Charleston)
Kuhn, a downtown lawyer who was unseated in 2004 by now-Sen. Chip Campsen, said in a statement Tuesday that he would bring business experience help “cut the budget, yet continue to provide the funding necessary to keep up with Charleston and Beaufort counties’ terrific growth.”
Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey (R – North Charleston)
Charleston County Councilman, Elliott Summey, son of North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, tells the City Paper that he’s been talking to his consultants and is considering the opportunity. On Monday night, he tweeted “‘Teddy’ ‘Tumpy’ ‘Chip’. Sailors, country clubs and polo ponies. They should understand needs of the working class #sc1” — just in case you’re wondering where he stands. UPDATE: The P&C reports Friday that both Summey and Chip Limehouse are making moves to enter the race.
S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse (R – Charleston)
Downtown state Rep. Chip Limehouse, who’s been criticized in recent months (even by others on this list, like McCoy and Stavrinakis) over dealings with the Charleston Airport Authority and the tax money that has been spent on a lawmakers’ convention in Charleston, told Patch before Scott was appointed that he would take a look at 1st District seat. UPDATE: Limehouse told the P&C that he is “doing every thing I can possibly do to start a race” for the House.
S.C. Rep. Peter McCoy (R – James Island)
Former assistant solicitor Rep. Peter McCoy, whose district represents much of James Island and Folly Beach, told The Hill on Monday that he was “definitely considering running,” but hadn’t made a final decision yet.
Former governor Mark Sanford (R – Charleston)
The former luv guv, who has put out political feelers over the past year as a Fox News analyst and penning op-eds, says he’s considering a run for the seat, setting up a potentially awkward showdown with his ex-wife, who’s also in the mix. Somehow we doubt they’ll both end up in this race. UPDATE: CNN reported Thursday night that Sanford is circling the wagons in preparation of a comeback in the special election.
Former first lady Jenny Sanford (Unknown – Charleston)
Though former first lady Jenny Sanford, who was reportedly on Gov. Haley’s short list of candidates to replace DeMint, remains popular, little is known about her politically. She’s told reporters that she plans to talk about the race with her sons before making a decision on whether to make her first run for political office.
S.C. Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D – Charleston)
Gilliard is one of only a few Democrats said to be considering the seat, which many consider to be a solidly Republican seat for the time being. Gilliard said Tuesday that he was working to gauge Democratic support in exploring the possibility of running.
S.C. Rep. Jimmy Merrill (R – Daniel Island)
A former House Republican leader, popular GOP Rep. Jimmy Merrill is one of a handful from this list who is widely expected to mount a bid for the 1st.
Carroll “Tumpy” Campbell III (R – Mount Pleasant)
A run for the 1st District wouldn’t be the first time this son of popular late former governor Carroll Campbell has mounted a run for office in the district. He lost the 2010 primary to Scott.
S.C. Senator-elect Paul Thurmond (R – Charleston)
After also losing the GOP nomination for the 1st District in 2010, Thurmond has since been elected to the state Senate, replacing now-Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. Never say never, but with “Senator-elect” preceding his name right now, signs of making another run for Congress point to “No” for the time being.