COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Establishment candidate William Timmons – who spent nearly $1 million in his own money to win the Republican nomination Tuesday to replace U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy – now turns his attention to a Democrat who picked up less than 30 percent of the vote in the general election the last time he won his party’s nod.
Timmons will have the advantage in money and experience even before factoring in the conservative bend of South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, which hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1990 and has given at least 60 percent of the vote to every Republican since 2000.
State Sen. Timmons beat former state Sen. Lee Bright in unofficial results in Tuesday’s runoff.
Democratic businessman Brandon Brown beat accountant Lee Turner for his party’s nomination.
Timmons loaned his campaign more than $918,000 and spent more than $1 million. Brown spent just over $16,000 through the June primary and runoff, or less than 2 percent of what Timmons spent in the district that includes Greenville and Spartanburg.
Brown also won his party’s nomination in 2004, but received just 29 percent of the vote in the general election, losing to Republican Bob Inglis.
Timmons was a prosecutor and successful businessman and was elected to the state Senate in 2016 in another mostly self-funded campaign.
Bright led the 13-candidate Republican primary on June 12, but received just 25 percent of the vote. Timmons received 19 percent and the more establishment candidates finished second through fourth, well eclipsing Bright’s total.
Timmons said he and Bright have similar ideas about matters important to conservatives such as cutting spending and taxes, and stopping abortions.
“We support the same policies,” Timmons said. “The difference is who has the ability move the ball – who has the ability to change Washington.”
Timmons said Bright’s propensity toward less mainstream ideas – such as creating a state currency for South Carolina or passing a law to require people to use the bathrooms of their gender at their birth – would prevent him from being an effective congressman.
Gowdy, who led a highly partisan panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, announced he was not running for a fifth term in January. The former local prosecutor who rose in the U.S. House to be chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he wanted a job in the federal justice system instead.
This story has been corrected to show Bright led the June 12 primary, not won that primary.
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