14 Sep 2014
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Is Larry Grooms Preparing to Jump Into Congressional Race?

Longtime Lowcountry Republican figures to be a strong candidate in a race with many moving parts.

Is Larry Grooms Preparing to Jump Into Congressional Race?

From the moment Tim Scott was named as a likely successor to Jim DeMint, the speculation began about who would fill Scott’s seat representing Congressional District 1.

One of the first names mentioned as a candidate was Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley County. In a conversation with Patch on Tuesday, Grooms did little to dispel the widely held belief that he’ll be in the running.

Grooms said he is in the process of speaking with his family, contributors and grassroots team and expects to make a decision soon.

The Congressional First has been re-drawn since Scott won it in 2010 and now includes portions of Beaufort County that could make up 20 to 25 percent of registered voters. Grooms’ current constituency sits roughly in the center of CD1 so he would have to introduce himself to voters in the Southern part of the district.

Sen. Tom Davis, who represents much of Beaufort County, has said it’s unlikely he’ll pursue CD1, so all of the names being brought up would have to acquaint themselves with his part of the district.

The campaign schedule will be truncated and that, according to Grooms, would work in his favor. He has high name recognition, having served the in the Lowcountry since 1997. He won’t have to introduce himself to people, he can just point to his record in the public and private sector.

“I’ve been a job creator and I’ve got a record in the Senate that’s been recognized by numerous outside groups as pro-business,” Grooms said.

In its most recent ratings, the S.C. chapter of the Club for Growth scored Grooms with a 55. But that was only for the 2011 Legislative Session. In 2008, he received an A+.

With a compressed schedule that would last less than three months, financial backing might be even more prioritized than normal. “It’s always a concern,” Grooms said. “But I’m confident I’ll have the resources I need.”

There is one other factor which could change the dynamic of the still-unfolding race: endorsements.

The preferred endorsement would be from Scott himself, but that does not seem likely to arrive. At his press conference Monday, when asked if he’ll support a candidate, Scott jokingly said, “Not if I’m smart.”

That doesn’t mean other leading Republicans won’t weigh in.

Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed eventual winner Tom Rice in neighboring Congressional District 7 this year and sources close to the governor have not ruled out the possibility she’ll get involved in CD1. The eventual representative for CD1 could play a key role an in Haley’s prospects for re-election in 2014, so that makes sense.

An endorsement from Davis would be helpful and sources say he has not ruled out the possibility of backing someone. Support from DeMint, the person who started the chain reaction that caused the CD1 seat to open, would also have an impact.

Also worth noting is that CD1 is nearly surrounded by Congressional District 6, which is heavily Democratic and represented by Jim Clyburn. Should Clyburn throw his support behind a Democrat, the general election could be competitive.

But, Grooms said he believes CD1 is among the most conservative House Districts in the country and that whoever emerges on the Republican side of the primary will be in good position against any Democrat.

For now, Grooms is not officially a candidate. For now.

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