South Carolina House: Rice Measures the Drapes

Jessica Taylor June 27, 2012 · 11:55 AM EDT

For a race that had plenty of twists and turns in its final month, the runoff in South Carolina’s new 7th District was almost anticlimactic. Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice (R) and former Georgia state Rep. Gloria Tinubu (D) are now set to face off this fall, and Republicans are heavily favored to win the new seat in the Palmetto State.

Rice easily defeated former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the GOP runoff, 56 percent to 44 percent, easing any concerns national Republicans may have had about the district. A polarizing figure in the state with a history of controversial antics and statements, Bauer could have been a problem as the GOP nominee if Democrats had found a top tier opponent.

While the crowded June 12 race was relatively civilized, the quick two-week runoff took on the state’s usual mudslinging, as Bauer claimed Rice was a moderate and had failed to sufficiently support the state’s conservative Sen. Jim DeMint. Rice not-so-subtly hinted at Bauer’s past headlines and secured the backing of Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who has been no fan of Bauer since their testy 2010 gubernatorial primary.

On the Democratic side, after the party’s top candidate, state Rep. Ted Vick, swiftly stepped down after he was stopped for drunk driving -- with a college co-ed in the car and an unregistered handgun -- the Democratic establishment quickly lined up behind young attorney Preston Brittain. But Tinubu bested Brittain in the first round of voting and thumped him again in the runoff, 73 percent to 27 percent.

Since Tinubu is a former Georgia state legislator and a Democrat running in a solidly Republican seat, this race is not competitive in the fall.