Manning minister hopes to challenge Clyburn for 6th District

The (Sumter) ItemOctober 16, 2013 

The Rev. Leon Winn announced his intention to run for South Carolina's 6th District congressional seat in front of the Sumter County Judicial Center on Tuesday morning.

"We need change, and the only way to do that is through the people we elect to Congress," said the 58-year-old Republican candidate. "I will work every day to better lives and break the gridlock in Congress not by trying but by doing. I don't believe in trying. I believe in doing."

Should he win his party's nomination, Winn will most likely face long-serving Democrat incumbent Rep. James E. Clyburn.

The newly announced campaign is Winn's second local attempt at local office. While not a Sumter native as Clyburn is, the Georgia-raised Winn ran as the Republican nominee for state senator in District 36 last year, falling to then-state Rep. Kevin L. Johnson Jr., D-Manning.

To launch his new campaign, Winn turned to promoting broad concepts.

"I believe in the Constitution," Winn said Tuesday. "I believe in free enterprise. I believe in jobs, not handouts."

During Tuesday's announcement, Ella Williams asked Winn what the government could do for someone like her: a single, working mother of an 11-year-old daughter who also goes to school and is not on welfare.

"I will give you all the help I can give you," he said. "You don't need just a job, you need a better-paying job. You've got the motivation and the work ethic. You just need a little help."

Williams said that was exactly what she was looking for.

"I have a good foundation from my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother," Williams said. "We take care of our own. You take some help, but don't make it generational. God has blessed me with a job and school."

As a father of three and grandfather of three, education is another area of focus for Winn.

"Every child is born with an innate ability built in by God," he said. "Students need a purpose starting in middle school. Not all students are going to college, but that doesn't mean they can't be productive citizens. We need to give them a sense of hope."

Winn is an Air Force veteran and a graduate of Bradwell Institute of Hineville, Ga. He received a bachelor's degree in theology from Morris College in 1990 and a doctorate in divinity from the Overcoming Outreach School of Religion in Columbia in 2000. In 2012, he told The Item he has lived in Sumter about two decades and has served as pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Manning about 15 years.

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