In a district with 32 percent black voter registration, Tinubu defeated Democratic primary runoff opponent, Preston Brittain, 73-27 percent. Brittain, making his political debut, suffered that wipeout despite endorsements from top statewide Democrats loyal to his father’s long-time financial support for top Democrats in the state. The endorsers included Assistant House Democratic Minority Leader James Clyburn, former House Commerce Committee Chairman John Spratt, former Gov. Jim Hodges, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen, and retiring state Senate Democratic caucus leader John Land.
The mid-October quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission show Tinubu’s Republican opponent, Horry County (Myrtle Beach) County Council Chairman Tom Rice, had raised more than $1.2 million, plus a loan of another $100,000. Tinubu’s $535,000 total includes a $300,000 personal loan.
The Myrtle Beach Sun-News, one of two dailies in the predominantly rural district that stretches across the state northeastern corner, endorsed Tinubu in the Democratic primary, noting “her laser-like focus on public education as a path to success and her obvious heart for the district’s rural communities.”
Tinubu, who moved back to her native South Carolina after serving a year in the Georgia House of Representatives. She served several terms on Atlanta City Council before running an unsuccessful campaign for mayor.
In a recent televised debate with Rice, who said he would hire an economist as a staff member, Tinubu, who has a Ph.D. in economics, retorted, “I will be the economist in my office.” Political reporter John Sweeney of the Florence Morning News, the district’s other daily, wrote last Saturday that a recent debate at Coastal Carolina College, where Tinubu is a faculty member, gave her campaign “a burst of energy.”
No polls have been taken since one by Winthrop College, soon after the primary, that showed Rice ahead 50-38, but local press consensus suggests a tight race as it comes to a close.
When I called DCCC Southern coordinator Charles Kelly for comment last Friday afternoon, he referred me to a press spokesman. She didn’t respond to a phone message, and no one but Sandy was around on Monday.
Bass is professor emeritus of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston.