SC Dem running for Congress again after close special election loss

South Carolina Democrat Archie Parnell is running for Congress again in 2018 after a surprisingly strong showing in a June special election brought him within 3 points of flipping a deep-red seat. 

Parnell announced his bid Monday both in a press conference and in a playful campaign ad that jokes about him getting a tattoo and playing Go Fish with Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to pass the time between his two campaigns. 

“After watching all the madness that’s happening in Washington right now, I’ve talked it over with [my wife] … and today, I’m proud to announce I’m running for Congress again to create good jobs, lower your taxes and to make our communities places we all want them to be,” Parnell says in the ad. 


Parnell ran a strong race in his June special election against now-Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), a race far overshadowed on the national stage by the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. 

While President Trump won the district by 18 percentage points in 2016, Parnell lost by just 4 points. Trump prompted the special election by tapping Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump names new acting director of legislative affairs 12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: ‘We’ve overreacted a little bit’ to coronavirus MORE, who then held the state’s 5th District seat, to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

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The overwhelming national attention on the Georgia race allowed Parnell to run under the radar, which might have helped to keep turnout low among Republicans who didn’t realize the strength of the challenge while Parnell and his campaign worked diligently to turn out its base. 

Parnell also ran his strong race with little help from the national Democratic apparatus, which was focused on Jon Ossoff’s bid in the Georgia special election 

But when the dust settled, Parnell’s margin of defeat was smaller than Ossoff’s 4-point loss, although Ossoff had a higher share of the vote. 

South Carolina Democrats hope that Parnell will be able to build on the strong success of that campaign and capitalize on Trump’s sagging favorability. But that success will also likely draw more Republican support to help Norman if there are any signs that Parnell could flip the seat.