NPR logo Rep. Inglis (R-SC) May Be The Next Incumbent To Go Down To Defeat

Election 2010

Rep. Inglis (R-SC) May Be The Next Incumbent To Go Down To Defeat

Inglis could lose his bid for renomination in Tuesday's runoff. hide caption

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Not long after Bob Inglis was first elected to Congress in 1992, defeating a Democratic incumbent with the help of the Christian Coalition, Congressional Quarterly’s Politics In America called him as close to being a true revolutionary “as anyone in the GOP House class” of ’92.  He wants to “alter life dramatically in the nation’s capital," CQ wrote.  He talked about a “cultural war in this country to determine whose set of values rule.”

After six years in the House, and abiding by his own term-limits pledge, he challenged Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) in 1998, running a competitive race but never able to catch up to Hollings in the money-raising department.  He returned to his House seat in 2004, when his successor, Jim DeMint, left to run for the Senate.

But things are no longer the same, both with Inglis and the makeup of the Republican Party.  For one thing, the congressman has broken with some party orthodoxy.  He believes that climate change and global warming are real and present a danger, a viewpoint not universally shared in the GOP.  He was one of only 17 Republicans to vote against the 2007 Bush surge in Iraq.  He suggested to his constituents that watching Fox commentator Glenn Beck was distorting their view of reality.  He voted to reprimand fellow South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson for his “you lie!” outburst at President Obama during an address to Congress, a vote shared by only six other House GOPers.  Perhaps the most egregious vote was the one he made in 2008 for the bank bailout.

Those are tough positions for someone whose congressional district includes Bob Jones University, and he has paid a price.  Four Republicans challenged him for renomination, saying he is out of touch with his conservative constituency.  In the June 8 primary, he finished a weak second, with 27 percent, against former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy.  But because no one broke the 50 percent threshold, the two are facing each other again in Tuesday’s runoff.

Gowdy has to be considered the favorite, as two weeks may not be enough time for Inglis to erase several years' worth of unpopular votes.

Four incumbents have been defeated in their bid for renomination this year:  Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) & Bob Bennett (R-UT), and Reps. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) & Parker Griffith (R-AL).