Tommy Pope is the Speaker Pro Tempore of the South Carolina House of Representatives and was one of the establishment candidates in the crowded GOP field of hopefuls to fill South Carolina’s vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pope earned 30.4 percent of the vote, just barely edging out Ralph Norman. However, since Norman also received at least 30 percent of the vote, they will face each other in the run-off on May 16.
The 54-year-old Pope is hoping to represent South Carolina’s fifth Congressional district. The seat was left vacant after President Donald Trump chose Mick Mulvaney as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The general election is scheduled for June 20, and the two Republican candidates will face Democrat Archie Parnell, who received 71.3 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
You can follow Pope on Twitter here.
Here’s a look at Pope’s life and career.
1. Pope Is Married to Kimberly Greenwood Pope & Has 4 Children
Pope is married to Kimberly Greenwood Pope, who works at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She works in the Department of Social Work. Pope and Kimberly have three sons – Logan, Jacob and Preston – and a daughter, Kaylen. He also has one grandchild.
“I am excited to be involved with Winthrop,” Pope, who has a bachelor’s degree in management and his J.D. from the University of South Carolina, said in 2009.
2. Pope Gained National Attention in 1995 for Prosecuting Susan Smith, Who Drowned Her 3 Children
In 1994 and 1995, Pope gained national attention for prosecuting Susan Smith, who admitted to drowning her two infant sons. At the time, Pope was just 32 and the youngest prosecutor in the state.
According to People Magazine, Pope had said he would seek the death penalty, but Smith was sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in November 2024.
Pope graduated from law school in 1987 and was hired by the state narcotics task force as an adviser. His next job was an assistant prosecutor. In 1991, he an for the prosecutor’s job and won. That year, his first marriage also ended, People Magazine reports. In July 1994, he married Kimberly.
3. Pope Earned the Endorsement of the State House Speaker & Agricultural Commissioner
Pope has the endorsements of two important figures in South Carolina politics. The State reports that both South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas and Agricultural Commissioner Hugh Weathers have endorsed him to take Mulvaney’s seat.
“Tommy Pope is a proven conservative and the right choice for Congress,” Lucas, who doesn’t live in the district Pope hopes to represent, said in a statement. “His pro-business and fiscally responsible record in the South Carolina House of Representatives is what Washington needs to practice to put America back on the right track.”
“The farmers that I’ve talked to in the 5th District are supporting Tommy because they recognize what he did for them in Columbia,” Weathers said in a statement the day before Lucas announced his endorsement. “When the flood hit two years ago, we really needed help and it was not coming from anywhere else. But Tommy stood up and showed leadership on behalf of all farmers.”
The Union Daily Times notes that Pope also boasted about getting the endorsements from 103 “public servants, business leaders and friends” from the 11 counties that make up the 5th 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 in a statement. “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.”
In April, influential trial lawyers in the Palmetto State also held a fundraiser for Pope.
4. Pope Wants to Help Donald Trump Build a Wall & Endorses ‘Extreme Vetting’
In a statement on Pope’s website, Pope says that he strongly agrees with Trump’s security policies. He wants to help the president build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, even though South Carolina is far from it. He also wants to “stop the flow of immigration into America from countries that harbor terrorists and institute ‘extreme vetting’ on refugees.”
Lastly, Pope also wants to cut off federal funding to the “sanctuary cities” that do not enforce immigration laws. There are no cities in South Carolina that are considered “sanctuary cities.”
Pope also vowed in an email newsletter that he will “protect” the Second Amendment and to “strengthen” the military.
Pope also praised Trump after the president’s speech before a joint session of Congress.
Despite his conservative policies, Pope did approve of the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds in 2015. His decision made him a target of another Republican candidate, Sheri Few, who attacked him in a Facebook ad, notes The State.
5. Pope Considered Running for South Carolina Governor, but That’s ‘on Hold’
Pope told the Herald Online that the moment he heard Mick Mulvaney was chosen for a job in the Trump administration, he jumped at the chance to run for Congress. However, he also had plans to run for South Carolina governor in 2018, but Pope said those plans are now “on hold.” If he doesn’t win the seat in Congress, he’ll resume his gubernatorial campaign.
“As soon as Mick Mulvaney is approved, I am in,” Pope said in February. When Mulvaney was approved, Pope announced his candidacy.
“I always believed that here in South Carolina was where I could best serve the people, but when God closes one door, he often opens another,” Pope said, The State reports.
Pope, who is still an attorney in private practice, currently represents Western York County in the South Carolina house. Ralph Norman, who represents other portions of York County, is also running in the primary for Mulvaney’s seat.