COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — State Representative Krystle Matthews won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Matthews, runner-up in a June 14 primary, defeated author and curator Catherine Fleming Bruce in the second round.
Matthews – who has said she wants to change a toxic culture that she says leads senators and others in power to disenfranchise minorities and those most in need of protection – wins the nomination under the cloud of a possible ethical investigation.
Over the weekend, conservative activist group Project Veritas released a leaked audio purportedly of Matthews speaking to an inmate about funding his campaign with “dope boy money” and the Democrats running for Republicans, claiming that the “secret sleepers” represent “the only way you’re going to change the dynamic in South Carolina.
On Tuesday, Matthews confirmed to The Associated Press that it was his voice on the tape, but said edited audio of an “ironic” exchange did not reflect the full picture.
READ MORE: 2022 South Carolina Primary Election Results
“That’s the problem, when you have a private conversation, where people have no context,” she said. “I am not advocating any illegal activity in the countryside.”
State House Ethics Committee officials said Tuesday they may launch an investigation based on the leaked audio, which Matthews said she was “not concerned about.”
“The people of South Carolina want someone authentic and real,” Matthews told AP. “They’re tired of people pretending to be caring people, pretending to be smart people, pretending to be nice people, and then finding out later that those people aren’t even showing up for them. .”
Matthews will also run for a third term in the state House in November if she loses the U.S. Senate race.
Scott, who has been one of South Carolina’s most popular politicians, had no primary opposition and raised $44 million for his pursuit of a second full six-year term.
The only black Republican in the Senate said it would be his last term if re-elected. He won a special election in 2014 and his regular term in 2016 with over 60% of the vote.
Bruce and Matthews raised a total of $131,000, according to federal fundraising data.
Scott, who has been one of the go-to figures in the GOP, particularly on issues of race and policing, has faced a black opponent in each of his three campaigns.
He was a congressman when the governor at the time. Nikki Haley nominated him to the Senate seat left vacant when Jim DeMint resigned in 2012.
Scott is also being touted by some as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, although he hasn’t mentioned it himself.
Scott touts his conservative credentials and secured a prime-time speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention. But he also noted his work with Democrats on police reform legislation.