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March 10, 2009

Henry Brown gets primary challenger

Rep. Henry Brown, Jr. (R-S.C.) will be facing a primary challenger next year with an instantly recognizable last name.

Carroll “Tumpy” Campbell, the son of the state’s former governor, will be challenging Brown in next year’s Republican primary, according to a South Carolina Republican operative. News of his decision was first reported by The Hill’s Reid Wilson.

“Sometimes we have to make the hard decisions and we have to let our friends go who are serving in Congress, because they’re not getting the job done,” he told The Hill.

Campbell's father, Carroll, served as governor of the state from 1987-1995.  He was mentioned as a potential running mate for Bob Dole in 1996, and was a prominent supporter of former President Bush in the state's 2000 primaries. He died in 2005.

"I don’t expect him to actually file by the time it’s all said and done. I think he’s toying with it, but when the reality sets in, I don’t expect him to actually run," said Brown's campaign consultant Rod Shealy.  "But we certainly take him seriously, regardless"."

South Carolina Republican party chairman Katon Dawson said that other challengers could emerge in the coming months. Paul Thurmond, the youngest son of former Sen. Strom Thurmond, is also considering a primary campaign against Brown, and would be a formidable foe.

And Brown’s primary challenger last year, Katherine Jenerette, has announced she’s running again.

Republicans have been emboldened to challenge Brown after his weak performance in last year’s general election. The five-term congressman won just 52 percent of the vote against Democrat Linda Ketner, the free-spending heiress to the Food Lion fortune.

“I wasn’t stunned because he hadn’t spent a nickel until six weeks out. No campaign literature, no TV, no signs. I don’t think you’ll see the congressman take his election for granted again,” said South Carolina Republican party chairman Katon Dawson.