South Carolina Congressional races are starting to shape up around the state. While everyone seems to be reporting on the wide open filed along the coast in the First District, there are interesting races in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Districts. As Spring approaches, even figuring out what consultant is running races in different districts is becoming easier, as similar ads are ran by candidates whose campaigns are ran by the same consultants.
The Third and Fifth especially come to mind due to recent news. In the Third District, State Rep. Rex Rice is posturing hard for the hardcore right vote that makes up such a big part of the Third District. First, Rice brought in Mike Huckabee to endorse him. Then, Rex got quoted in The State supporting a state budget measure that will ban state health insurance paying for all abortions, including those for women who were victims of rape or whose lives are in danger. That is going to boost Rex's standing among hard core pro-lifers. Look for Rice to take other very socially conservative stands over the next few weeks. Not only is it good politics for the Third in a Republican primary, but it helps Rex gloss over his not so conservative record on government spending.
Speaking of government spending, the man in charge of such in the United States House faces real trouble. Congressman John Spratt is a legend in the Fifth District and comes from the connected class of the region he represents. That has allowed Spratt to stay on as a Democratic Congressman in a district that has trended against Democrats for some time.
However, Spratt's powerful position could be his undoing. As Chairman of the US House Budget Committee, Spratt is becoming a lightening rod for those opposed to overspending. A recent Public Policy Surveying poll has Spratt with a 46 to 39 lead over Republican State Senator Mike Mulvaney. While still in the lead, the fact that Spratt is at 46 percent after nearly 28 years in Congress has to give Democrats pause. Traditionally, when a well known and long serving incumbent is below 50 percent, trouble is on the horizon. Undecideds typically tend to break against the incumbent in such situations. If that happens, Spratt is in trouble.
That trouble for Spratt will hurt the Democrats running in the safer Republican districts. The Democrats are not going to spend resources on gambles when they have to fight to save Spratt.
That said, there is a big factor still sitting out there that might affect Congressional races around the country and in South Carolina's Fifth District. The majority of the money in the Obama stimulus package has not been spent yet. Do not be surprised in the late summer and early fall that a candidate like Spratt starts touting how he got money for schools, bridges, roads, etc. If that happens, the Republicans will have to have a clear message and a strong organization to win a district like Spratt's. Spratt is in trouble, but all that means is it time for the Republicans in the Fifth District to work harder and get their act together.