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Club for Growth Steps Into South Carolina GOP Primary

Group's super PAC debuts ads for Ralph Norman

Screenshot of a Club for Growth Action ad.
Screenshot of a Club for Growth Action ad.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff in South Carolina’s 5th District, the Club for Growth is endorsing former state Rep. Ralph Norman. Its affiliated super PAC will begin an ad campaign for him on Wednesday.

Norman faces off against Tommy Pope, the state House speaker pro tempore, in Tuesday’s GOP runoff. They both finished with 30 percent of the vote in the seven-candidate primary on May 2. Pope earned 118 more votes, according to The Associated Press

Club for Growth Action is airing two ads through the runoff on broadcast, cable and digital platforms in media markets in Columbia, Greenville, and Charlotte, North Carolina, some of whose suburbs are included in the 5th District. The first ad attacks Pope as a “professional politician, always looking out for himself.”

Norman was the major self-funder in the primary, loaning his campaign more than $300,000.

Former state GOP chairman Chad Connelly, who was the most socially conservative candidate in the race, endorsed Norman this week after finishing fourth in the primary. Connelly had received donations from the House Freedom Fund, the political arm of the Freedom Caucus, and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the caucus’ chairman. Norman told The (Charleston) Post and Courier on Sunday that he’s likely to join the Freedom Caucus if elected. 

“If you’re interested in duplicating what Mick Mulvaney did, the choice is obviously me,” Norman told the newspaper. Mulvaney, who vacated the 5th District seat to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget, was a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus. 

Pope, as the more establishment Republican in the race, told the Post and Courier he’s unlikely to join the caucus if he wins the seat. He’s backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s political arm recently released a video for Pope featuring South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.

The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will face Democrat Archie Parnell in the June 20 special election. 

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