GREER — The Democratic Party's latest bid to loosen the Republican grip on U.S. Senate seats in South Carolina will feature at least two candidates from either end of the state.
Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chairwoman Angela Geter formally announced her candidacy May 6 in the 2022 race against Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
She joins Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews of Berkeley County in what is now shaping up as a party primary for the nomination.
Beneath a statue at Greer's Victor Memorial Veterans Park and with a handful of supporters and media on hand, Geter, an Air Force veteran of eight years who rose to the rank of sergeant, spoke of how she would be more present in the state than Scott.
Scott has taken on a national presence as the Senate's lone Black Republican and was tapped to offer the GOP's response to President Joe Biden's address to Congress earlier this month.
Geter said she would focus on three key areas: small-business development; rebuilding infrastructure such as water systems, roads and broadband access; and education at both the K-12 and college level.
"We are in a historic moment, and that moment demands something of us," Geter said. "For me, that means making this announcement."
A Scott spokesman, Bradford Traywick, declined to comment.
State Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson, who was at Geter's event, said that in addition to an overall effort to register more voters, particular attention will be devoted to women, who turned out in record numbers in the state's 2020 election.
The election saw 1.4 million women vote — about 300,000 more votes than men and a trend Robertson said will only increase in the coming years.
"In 2020, we saw the largest turnout in the state's history," he said, "but most important of that turnout were women."
It was still not good enough for Democrats, as party nominee Jaime Harrison lost to longtime Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Four years ago, Geter lost the Democratic primary to fill the vacant seat of state Rep. Harold Mitchell.
Democrats are still licking the wounds of dashed expectations after Harrison, a longtime lobbyist, raised more than $100 million to unseat Graham, bringing in money from across the country. In the weeks leading up to the election, polls and pundits indicated Harrison might have a legitimate shot to accomplish a feat similar to what ultimately happened in Georgia, where two Democratic challengers beat Republican incumbents.
However, despite the financial support and a blitz of ads, Graham won by 10 points.
In 2013, then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott to fill the state's junior U.S. Senate seat upon the retirement of Republican Jim DeMint. Scott retained the seat during a special election the following year, then against in the 2016 election. Scott won both elections by more than 20 points.
Jamie Lovegrove reported from Columbia.