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White Congressman Abandons Re-Election Bid in New Black-Majority District

June 27, 1992

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Rep. Robin Tallon, who is white, has decided not to seek re-election in his newly drawn black-majority congressional district, saying he doesn’t want ″to be a party to″ a racially divisive campaign.

Tallon, a Democrat, pulled out of the race Thursday, just before the noon filing deadline.

Three days earlier, he had told reporters he wanted to seek a sixth term in Congress even though five black Democrats also want the seat.

″The numbers showed I could win. But I think in the long term, winning could be losing,″ he said later.

Tallon said he began to have serious doubts when political consultants told him he had to conduct a subtle campaign of covertly targeting the white vote.

″I didn’t want to be a party to that, to have to encourage that, to foster that to win. I didn’t want to be remembered that way. ... That’s not how I got started 10 years ago. It was to bring people together, and we did that,″ he said.

His exit makes it much more likely South Carolina will send a black to Congress for the first time since 1897, when Rep. George Washington Murray left office.

Of the five Democrats and three Republicans seeking nomination in the Aug. 25 primaries, just one candidate is white. The counties the district covers usually vote Democratic.

Tallon’s announcement brings to 82 the number of members of Congress who plan to leave at the end of their current terms. In the House, they include 50 who are retiring, 11 who have been defeated, and 13 who are seeking other offices.

Tallon was elected to Congress in 1982, beating Republican incumbent John Napier.

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