State Representative Tommy Pope (R-Rock Hill) made several stops in the Lowcountry back in November when he was a candidate for Governor. He made a return visit when he spoke to First Monday Republican Club at Easterby’s in West Ashley, even though he is now a candidate for the open seat in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, which was recently vacated by President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Pope had made the commitment to speak to the West Ashley club months earlier while a declared candidate for Governor in 2018. When he contacted club President Norma Hancock to discuss his change in status, she said the club would still like to hear him. Pope told the crowd, “How could I tell her no!” He made a six-hour round trip to appear at the meeting.
The son of the York County Sheriff, Pope has a background in law enforcement. He served with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) while an undergraduate and law school student at the University of South Carolina and served as a legal advisor to the agency after getting his law degree. At age 30, he was elected Solicitor for York and Union counties and tried the high profile Susan Smith murder case in 1995. He has served in the state House of Representatives since 2010, rising to Speaker Pro-tempore.
Pope regaled the First Monday Club with a humorous story about his experience as a third grade Sunday School teacher using puppets to teach Bible stories. While Pope brandished a puppet of Moses, student Drayton Wade blurted out that it was Joshua, not Moses, who led the Israelites to the Promised Land. Wade is now an adult living in Charleston.
The primary for the 5th Congressional District special election will be held May 2. With seven candidates in the Republican field, a May 16 runoff is expected for the top two finishers.