It appears Ralph Norman has defeated Tommy Pope in the Republican runoff for South Carolina's open 5th congressional district seat. But the margin of victory was just 200 votes out of more than 34,000 ballots cast, triggering na automatic recount.
This result probably has both Pope and Norman feeling a bit of déjà vu. They were the top vote getters in the Republican primary just two weeks ago. Pope came out on top in that race, beating Norman by just 135 votes.
But Pope did not hit the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. The 200-vote difference is well within the 1 percent automatic recount trigger mandated under South Carolina law.
Pope is a Republican leader in the South Carolina House. Norman is a property developer and former state representative. And both men had heavy hitters endorse them in recent days. Republican Representative Trey Gowdey threw his support behind Pope. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz campaigned for Norman on Monday.
Overall, Pope was seen as the front runner in this race. So if Norman's 200-vote lead holds, it will be a bit of an upset. He would face Democratic nominee Archie Parnell on June 20th.
South Carolina's 5th congressional district has been seen as safe Republican turf since 2010. The year Republican Mick Mulvaney was elected to congress in the tea party wave. He is now serving in President Donald Trump's administration.