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South Carolina: Crowd Forming in Race to Replace Barrett

A little over a month after Rep. Gresham Barrett (R) announced he is running for governor in 2010, the Republican primary to fill his seat in the conservative 3rd district is getting crowded.

After meeting with National Republican Congressional Committee officials earlier this month, state Sen. Michael Thompson (R) said last week that he intends to form an exploratory committee in the coming weeks. Already in his fifth term in the state legislature, the 34-year-old Thompson hails from Anderson County, where he worked as a successful freight salesman in the family trucking business.

Thompson would join state Rep. Jeff Duncan (R), who announced his candidacy earlier this month. State Rep. Rex Rice (R) has formed an exploratory committee and set up a Web site to accept contributions, and state Sen. Shane Massey (R) threw his hat into the ring in mid-March. Physician and Ron Paul supporter Mike Vasovski (R) is also in the race.

One intriguing name that continues to be floated in GOP circles is Strom Thurmond Jr., the son and namesake of the legendary Senator. Thurmond, who serves as solicitor in Aiken County, would enjoy nearly universal name recognition if he were to run, and he is known to have expressed interest in Barrett’s seat in the past.

Though it does have a nearly 21 percent black population mostly based in the southern part of the district, the 3rd is safely Republican territory that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) won in 2008 with 64 percent.

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