SC House GOP lawmaker launches bid for SC Senate seat held by late Sen. Leatherman

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  • Hugh Leatherman
    American politician
  • Phillip Lowe
    American politician

South Carolina state Rep. Jay Jordan announced Tuesday that he is in the race for the state Senate to fill the unfinished term of the Florence County District 31 seat left open after the death of Hugh Leatherman in early November.

In Florence Tuesday, Jordan, 41, told reporters that he wants to focus on improving South Carolina’s infrastructure and education, and said he’ll support law enforcement and help foster economic development in the Florence area.

“We’re going to have to work together as a team, from local officials to business leaders to everyone in Florence to hold hands and grab hands and move forward together,” Jordan said.

Backing Jordan, who chairs the House Ethics Committee, on Tuesday included state Rep. Phillip Lowe, R-Florence, Florence County Sheriff T.J. Joye and Francis Marion University President Fred Carter, who was Leatherman’s longtime friend and whose university benefited from Leatherman’s role for two decades as the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

“I’m here today to endorse Jay, not just for this term, but for the next 10 terms, because I want another Senate finance chair to come from Florence, South Carolina,” Carter said.

Lowe called Jordan a conservative, who’s already established relationships can help him if he enters the Legislature’s upper chamber as a freshman.

“You can’t go in and be in the back row of the Senate, be No. 46 and have any seniority,” Lowe said. “You have to rely on those friends and those relationships and the trust that you’ve built.”

Jordan has represented his Florence County district since 2015 when he won a special election to succeed former state Rep. Kris Crawford. An attorney, Jordan serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and over the past several months has chaired the chamber’s House redistricting subcommittee. In December 2020, he was elected chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

His entry into the race sets up a primary election on Jan. 25 against businessman Mike Reichenbach, the only other Republican who has so far announced a campaign. Official filing for the race starts noon Friday and runs through noon Dec. 11.

The term for the vacant District 31 seat, represented for 41 years by Leatherman who died Nov. 12, ends in 2024.

Reichenbach launched his bid a week ago, saying he’ll put $100,000 of his own money into his campaign.

Jordan — whose campaign is being handled by Lexington-based Starboard Communications, run by veteran Republican consultant Walter Whetsell — said he wasn’t daunted.

“A lot of people are going to have to step up and work toward a goal of an election in eight weeks,” Jordan said. “I don’t know how much money it’s going to take. But ..., send your 10s, 20s and your 50s and hundreds, and let’s see if we can’t raise enough money to get the message out.”

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