House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) ended speculation about his possible retirement plans on Monday afternoon by filing for re-election one day before the state’s filing deadline.
South Carolina’s filing period opened on March 16, but a Spratt spokesman said last week that the busy voting schedule in the House over the past two weeks had kept the Congressman from filing sooner. A state Democratic party spokeswoman confirmed Monday afternoon that Spratt filed Monday.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has been working to keep the pressure on the 14-term lawmaker this cycle and was happy to fan the flames of retirement speculation in recent months as several veteran Democrats from battleground districts chose to retire rather than run in a tough environment.
Spratt’s decision to stay and fight is good news for Democrats, but they still are likely to see a competitive race in the 5th district.
Even in 2008, a strong Democratic year nationally, Sen. John McCain (R-S.C.) carried Spratt’s Rock Hill-based district with 53 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, GOP strategists believe that Spratt’s long tenure on the House Budget Committee, which for years has been a political plus for the incumbent, will be less so in 2010 given voters’ widespread concerns about big federal deficits.
Republicans have recruited state Sen. Mick Mulvaney, who just last week was bumped up to the second highest level of the NRCC’s “Young Guns” fundraising and campaign infrastructure program, to run in the race.
The move to name Mulvaney as one of 22 “Contender” candidates comes ahead of what committee officials expect to be a strong first-quarter fundraising report.
Mulvaney outraised the Congressman in the fourth quarter of 2009, but had about $117,000 in cash on hand on Dec. 31 while Spratt reported nearly $646,000 in the bank.