UNION COUNTY — Five of the more than 100 endorsements announced this week by the congressional campaign of Tommy Pope are from Union County residents including the current county supervisor and his immediate predecessor.
In a statement releases this week, Pope, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the US House of Representatives Fifth District Seat, announced the endorsements of 103 “public servants, business leaders, and friends” from all 11 counties that compose the Fifth District.
“I am humbled and honored to have the strong support of so many hard working public servants, business leaders, and friends from all eleven counties in the Fifth Congressional District,” Pope said. “People across the district tell me they want a proven leader who will rebuild our military, finally repeal Obamacare, and enact term limits on members of Congress. I’m not going to Washington because I want to be a ‘Congressman.’ I’m going to get the job done.”
Among those announcing their support for Pope this week SC House Majority Leader Rep. Gary Simrill who cited Pope’s background in law enforcement and his conservative beliefs.
“Throughout his career as a police officer and prosecutor, Tommy Pope has fought for the people in his community,” Simrill said. “In Columbia, there is no stronger standard bearer for conservative values, fiscal responsibility, and limited government than Tommy. In Washington, Tommy will work with President Trump to strengthen our military, revitalize the American economy, and restore our pro-life Christian values. The voters of the Fifth District will be well-served by the proven conservative leadership of our next Congressman, Tommy Pope.”
Of the 103 endorsements Pope has received, five are from Union County. Those endorsements include Union County Supervisor Frank Hart; former supervisor Tommy Sinclair; philanthropist Barbara Rippy; community advocate Amy Austin and her husband, businessman Kendall Austin.
Hart said he was endorsing Pope because of his long record of involvement with and service to Union County.
“Tommy Pope has a long history with Union County, we know him very well,” Hart said Friday. “On several occasions he has assisted our delegation with issues in Columbia. I believe Union County can count on the same level of service from him in Congress.”
Hart’s endorsement involves a crossing of party lines as he is a Democrat while Pope is a Republican. Hart, however, said party is not the issue. He said that he is endorsing Pope because he feels he will best serve the people of Union County.
“When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter who’s a Democrat or a Republican, it matters who will give good service to Union County,” Hart said. “It matters who has the knowledge and expertise to give us that good service.”
Hart’s predecessor, Sinclair, was a Democrat while serving as supervisor, but since leaving office has become a Republican. Sinclair said Friday he endorsed Pope because of his experience in law enforcement and his commitment to the rule of law under the Constitution.
“Tommy Pope comes with a background in law enforcement,” Sinclair said. “He was a SLED agent, became a prosecutor and solicitor and was very effective.”
Sinclair said that Pope’s experience and effectiveness and commitment to law enforcement can also play an important role in ensuring the educational system has the kind of structure it needs to effectively provide students with the kind of environment that will help them get a good education and enable the schools to provide them with one.
In addition, Sinclair said he feels Pope understands that the rule of law is necessary for ensuring that the rights of Americans are not abused by lawless elements within society.
“As I look at all the unruly protests that happened that resulted in mob mentality of destroying buildings and cars, looting, and hurting innocent civilians, that is not what the Constitution intended by freedom of speech and expression,” Sinclair said. “I believe Mr. Pope understands that and will do his part as a congressman to help prevent it.”
Sinclair also pointed to Pope’s service in the state legislature as among the reasons he endorsed him.
“Mr. Pope is also fiscally conservative and has shown in his time in the General Assembly that he is not afraid to stand for right over might,” Sinclair said. “I think Mr. Pope will represent the Fifth Congressional District and the rest of South Carolina in a manner that will benefit us all.”
Five other candidates are also seeking the Republican nomination for the Fifth District, and Sinclair said his endorsement of Pope should not be seen as anything negative against them.
“This endorsement is not against the other candidates,” Sinclair said. “It’s in support of Mr. Pope.”
The Austins said they were endorsing Pope because of his background in law enforcement, his years of service to Union County as Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor, and the support he has given them on the projects they have worked on over the years including the Miracle League of Union County.
“We know that he has a passion for Union County as our former solicitor,” the Austins said. “We have worked together and he has helped us with really good advice on projects for the community we have worked on including the Miracle League and he has been supportive in that effort.”
Also important to the Austins is the fact that Pope comes from a family of law enforcement personnel and that family is very important to him. They said these things are also important to them and that played a big role in their decision to endorse him.
They also pointed out that when Amy ran for Clerk of Court in 2016, Pope endorsed her. Also, they pointed out that, like them, Pope is a Republican, something that is also important to them and another reason for them to support his candidacy.
The primary for the Republican nomination for the US House of Representatives Fifth District seat will be held May 2. If no candidate gets a majority in the primary a runoff will be held two weeks later. The special election fill the seat will be held June 20.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.