THE STATE: SC Democrat Parnell tops Republican Norman in 5th District cash race

By Jamie Self
February 1, 2018


The race – and possible rematch – is only beginning. But Democrat Archie Parnell, running for the state’s 5th District congressional seat, has taken the lead — at least in the cash race — in his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman.

Parnell announced earlier this month that he had raised $340,000 for his campaign from October through December. The money includes a $100,000 loan from Parnell himself.

The Sumter tax attorney, again, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 5th District, which spans the fast-growing region of the state south of Charlotte.

The race could be competitive.

Norman, a Rock Hill Republican who barely beat Parnell for the seat in last June’s special election, raised $82,721 in the same three-month period, according to reports filed Wednesday. That’s about $1 for every $4 Parnell put in his campaign account during the quarter.

With $236,128 left to spend, Parnell celebrated Thursday.

“With ... the continued help from people who are ready for a change, we will once again have the resources to put up a strong fight in this district and take this seat back for the people,” the Democrat said. “The people ... deserve a voice who looks out for them instead of the big businesses and special interests.”

Norman’s camp pushed back, saying the congressman’s focus has been elsewhere.

The Republican has been “focused on doing his job in Washington, opening up district offices, passing tax-reform legislation,” and helping 5th District resident, said Walter Whetsell, Norman’s chief of staff and former campaign adviser.

Raising money for the campaign has not been a priority, Whetsell added. “Just like our race last year where we raised more than $1.5 million for a special election, we’ll be prepared for everything Archie Parnell, Nancy Pelosi and his national Democrat friends throw at us.”

Parnell has an advantage, albeit slight, over Norman, who finished out the year with about $100,500 in the bank to spend.

Parnell and Norman ran for the 5th District seat after U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, resigned to join the Trump Administration.

Parnell lost by a narrow 3 percentage points to Norman in the GOP-leaning district. In the four months of that campaign, Parnell raised $1,047,353.

Reporter Bristow Marchant contributed. Jamie Self: 803-771-8658, @jamiemself