S.C. Representative Tommy Pope represents Clover and a portion of York today, but says he will run for governor the next go-round.
Pope, 51, is a partner of the Elrod Pope Law Firm in Rock Hill, a former 16th Circuit Solicitor and former police officer. Last week, he uploaded new campaign graphics to his personal Facebook page, one of which included the phrase “Pope for Governor.”
“I’ve got a friend from college who does all my graphics,” Pope told WRHI’s news partner CN2. “I wanted to modernize my House 47 graphic and so he and I were playing around with that and while he was at it I said, ‘Why don’t you do me one for Governor?'”
Pope says his decision to seek the seat was one that came as a natural progression in the hierarchy of elected office. Filing for the seat will open in early 2018. Incumbent governor Nikki Haley, if re-elected this fall, would be limited to two terms in office.
“What I hope to bring more than anything is…caring about issues bigger than ourselves,” Pope said. “I love this state, I love the people, I love our natural resources. If the voters are willing at that time [I run for office], it would be an honor. It would be a sacrifice for the Pope family but it’d be an honor.”
In Pope’s latest campaign finance report submitted April 10, 2014, he reported $19,299 in campaign contributions to date this election cycle, spending $12,268 in the same period.
By contrast, Governor Nikki Haley has raised $5.8 million for her re-election campaign as of April 30, 2014. She spent $1.3 million in the same time period.
“It takes a tremendous amount of energy to run for a public office and the challenge for Rep Pope is build a large strong campaign organization then raise the money that is needed to run and develop a name recognition,” Winthrop University political science professor Adolphus Belk said of Pope’s political sights.
Outside of York County, Pope is perhaps best known as the solicitor who successfully prosecuted the 1995 murder trial of Susan Smith. A jury convicted her of killing her two young sons. The case was moved to the 16th judicial circuit to ensure fairness in a jury outside of Smith’s hometown. The case received attention from broadcast and print news organizations across the nation.
Pope left the solicitor’s office in 2006 and beat longtime state representative Herb Kirsh for the S.C. House District 47 seat in 2010.