Several names crowding field for Rep. Scott's open seat

By Eric

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Tim Scott's political promotion could shake up the Lowcountry political scene. Scott's move to the Senate will leave his seat in the House of Representatives up for grabs, and already there appears to be a number of interested candidates.

In 2010, when Scott first ran for Congress, there was a group of nine candidates in the GOP primary. This time around there could be at least that many. It's a highly coveted seat.

The race to replace Senator-elect Scott has already begun. Given the short time between now and the special election, the key to winning the seat in Congress could be about popularity.

"I think name recognition is always important but it's particularly important," said Gibbs Knotts.

Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston, said a known name gives a candidate a head start with voters.

"Somebody like a Jenny Sanford or a Paul Thurmond, who has pretty good name recognition, people know who they are. That's going to be a real advantage," Knotts said.

Already five, Lowcountry state lawmakers have voiced interest, as has the son of Ted Turner.

Scott's spot is so coveted because it's usually a safe seat for Republicans; it also holds promise.

"Second reason is, it's a good launching pad," said Knotts. "Charleston is an important city in South Carolina. If you go and do well and make a name for yourself as the representative from this district you can be a senate candidate."

Much like Scott did, Knotts said the opportunity could be there. The state of South Carolina has been kind to conservatives.

"All expectations are, this is going to be a republican who's going to win the district," he said. "It's a conservative district there's no question about it. Tim Scott was one of the most conservative members of congress."

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard is also exploring a bid for the 1st Congressional District.{}"My initial calls for support among local leadership and labor has been encouraging," said Gilliard.

He has also hired a consulting firm to poll and run preliminary targeting numbers, a statement read.

Former Republican state Sen. John Kuhn also announced Tuesday that he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, First Congressional District. Kuhn represented Charleston and Berkeley Counties in the State Senate from 2001-2004.

"I have seen the growth first-hand at both of my law offices and I know that we need to continue to build a strong port, build more infrastructure, and keep up with the strong development that Charleston, Berkeley and Beaufort counties have seen the past 20 years," he said.

The primary for Scott's House seat comes about 11 weeks after he is sworn as senator.

The special election will likely take place in March.


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