The good news for conservative Republicans in South Carolina’s 5th District is that the race for Congress there is one of the handful in which national pundits say a Democratic incumbent can actually be unseated by a GOP challenger.
The bad news is that this is nothing new. For most of the last 24 years, the 14-county district has been on the list of "vulnerable" Democratic-held districts. But even when the challengers have been formidable and the race close, Democrat John Spratt has survived. Today, the 63-year-old graduate of Oxford is the second-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee and the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. He styles himself a leader of the ever-shrinking band of "middle-of-the-road" Democrats in Congress.
But this year, Spratt’s political days may be numbered. District and Palmetto State Republicans have rallied around State Rep. Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill developer. Having wrapped up the GOP nod without opposition and raised a whopping $620,000, Norman focuses on a central theme: that for all Spratt’s talk that he’s a conservative and has "a seat at the head table" because of his clout, Spratt’s record (lifetime ACU rating: 25%) and his ties to far-left House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) indicate quite the opposite. Among the "un-South Carolina" votes recently cast by Spratt have been his opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and his support for more funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and for the Humanities.
"He’s the assistant to Nancy Pelosi, yet he’s going to spend a great deal of time saying ‘Nancy made me her assistant because I vote unlike her rather than like her,’" says Norman, "But out of the votes taken in the 109th Congress, he’s voted with her 90% of time. He’s become more and more willing to support the liberal wing of the Democratic Party over his constituents — a conservative people."
With support for Ralph Norman from "conservative people" nationally, John Spratt’s extended congressional life will finally be over. And the 5th District will have a real conservative voice and vote in Congress.