July 21st, 2024

Sheri Biggs wins Republican nod for US House in South Carolina over Trump-backed candidate

By Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press on June 25, 2024.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Sheri Biggs, a nurse practitioner and Air National Guard officer, won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House in South Carolina’s 3rd District on Tuesday.

Biggs was backed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. She and her husband were longtime friends and financial backers of the governor.

Biggs defeated Mark Burns, a Black pastor who has been by former President Donald Trump’s side for nearly a decade and has unsuccessfully run for Congress twice before.

This was Biggs’ first run for political office and if she wins in November, she will be only the second Republican woman South Carolina has sent to Congress. U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace is still serving for the 1st District.

The seat is open after Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan decided not to run again after seven terms. Duncan’s wife of 35 years filed for divorce in 2023, accusing him of several affairs.

Biggs will face the Democratic nominee, Sherwin-Williams paint store manager Byron Best from Greenwood, and Michael Bedenbaugh, of the Alliance Party, in November. Biggs will be a heavy favorite in the most Republican district in GOP-dominated South Carolina.

The district in the northwest corner of the state contains several small population centers.

While longtime friends Trump and McMaster were on opposite sides, there was no apparent animosity between the endorsers. McMaster did campaign in person for Biggs, while Trump didn’t make a visit to South Carolina for Burns.

McMaster and Trump go back a long way. McMaster was the nation’s first statewide elected official to back Trump in early 2016. Trump said when he became president he asked then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to become U.N. Ambassador so McMaster could move from lieutenant governor to the state’s top job.

Biggs and Burns had similar, popular views for Republicans, like ending nearly all abortions, closing the border and fighting inflation, as well as a total disdain for ideas from Democrats.

Burns won the June 11 primary with 33% of the vote, but Biggs was just a few points behind.

With similar agendas, the two-week sprint to the runoff was more about style. Burns called Biggs a “swamp creature” who wouldn’t fight the establishment

Biggs, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, said Burns misconstrued his academic and military background and voted for former Democratic President Barack Obama. Biggs has promoted pictures of her taken with Trump and said she is the candidate who can bring people together.

“I want to help heal our nation. We are broken fiscally, mentally and spiritually,” Biggs said at last week’s debate moderated by Fox Carolina.

Both candidates have invested heavily from their own money. Biggs loaned her campaign nearly $350,000 while raising an additional $182,000 from individual donors.

Burns has taken out $500,000 in loans for the 2024 campaign and raised a little over $16,000 from individuals. He still owes a $100,000 loan from an unsuccessful 2022 run in the neighboring 4th District. And unlike Biggs, Burns has not filed a required ethics disclosure form detailing his personal finances, which would give a glimpse into his personal worth and ability to pay the loans back.

“You can check my financial reports,” said Biggs, who lists millions of dollars in assets in investments and businesses with her husband. “I submitted mine unlike my opponent.”

In Lexington County, just west of Columbia, voters are deciding whether the last of the three Republican “Sister Senators,” who helped defeat a near-total abortion ban in South Carolina should be tossed out of office.

The three women were given the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for people who risk their careers for the greater good after they joined with Democratic lawmakers last year. The General Assembly eventually passed a measure that would ban most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy – before most people know they are pregnant.

State Sen. Katrina Shealy finished first in the June 11 primary, but her 40% of the vote was well below the majority needed to win outright. Attorney Carlisle Kennedy was a few percentage points behind.

Shealy, along with fellow Republican Sens. Sandy Senn and Penry Gustafson, said a pregnant woman shouldn’t lose control of her body as soon as an egg is fertilized. Senn lost her primary by 33 votes, while Gustafson got only 18% of the vote.

Outside of a Democratic senator mostly drawn out of his district due to redistricting, the women are the only ones in the 46-seat South Carolina Senate to lose their reelection bids.

“You can’t tell me that’s not a slap in the face of women,” Shealy said of the losses as she geared up for her runoff. “Republican women lose like this over one issue when we fought so hard for other things.”

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