The Palmetto Insider

Congressman Sanford: Marked Man?

Congressman Sanford: Marked Man?

Congressman Sanford: Marked Man?

  • Congressman Mark Sanford expected to face Republican challenger, in addition to Democrat Joe Cunningham
  • State representative Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) to position herself as pro-Trump alternative to Sanford
  • President Trump received just 53% of the vote in Sanford’s district – and Democrats pin hopes of flipping it on a strong Cunningham campaign

The race to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District is heating up – and Mark Sanford should be sweating.

Joe Cunningham, a Charleston attorney, is showing early signs of a strong candidacy. Democrats hope that the young, charismatic Cunningham will offer an effective contrast to Sanford.

On Monday, Cunningham released a campaign video filmed entirely during the totality of the solar eclipse.

As the 2018 election shapes up as a referendum on President Trump, a Democratic surge could flip Sanford’s district, which Trump won with just 53% of the vote. In these conditions, a Republican incumbent – particularly one who has been no stranger to scandal – would be vulnerable.

Perhaps Sanford has been a vocal Trump critic to separate his electoral fate from that of a deeply unpopular president (although this has not stopped Sanford from voting for the overwhelming majority of Trump’s agenda.)

It is his criticism of Trump that has sparked a Republican challenge. The Post and Courier reports that SC Representative Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) will run as a “pro-Trump” alternative to Sanford.

Arrington is a newcomer to politics, currently serving her first term in the South Carolina House of Representatives. She was elected to take the seat previously held by Jenny Horne, who unsuccessfully challenged Sanford last year rather than seek reelection.

So far, Arrington appears to follow Horne’s playbook: use support for Trump as a wedge to win over discontented Republican primary voters.

Will a challenge from the right work this time? That will be decided by South Carolina Republicans in their June primary.