Why He Matters
A former three-term federal prosecutor, Gowdy campaigned in 2010 as a "prosecutor, not a politician." Like many challengers in the 2010 race, Gowdy owes much of his success to the early Tea Party support he received and his hardline conservative stance. Gowdy says the Tea Party movement was "born out of a tripartite combination of anger, fear and love of this country" and heartily accepted the group's support throughout his lengthy run.
After campaigning for a year, Gowdy forced Republican incumbent Bob Inglis into one of South Carolina's several runoff races during the primary and later beat the six-term House veteran for the 4th district , thanks largely to the anti-establishment mood and Inglis' waning popularity among conservatives. Inglis, once viewed as a GOP firebrand, was one of three incumbent lawmakers to lose in the 2010 primaries.