Mental health advocate Paton Blough announced Saturday that he’s seeking to collect enough signatures to run as an independent in South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District in 2018.
If successful, Blough would be on the ballot against U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.
“I know it’s really early to start a run for the 2018 election, but in order to be on the ballot as an independent, you have to have 10,000 signatures,” Blough said. “I’m a passionate independent who has essentially railed against the two-party system most of my adult life. I see major government reform coming from outside the two major parties.”
So far, Blough said he has about 100 signatures. In order to meeting the filing deadline, Blough said he’ll have to average about 25 signatures a day.
The core of Blough’s campaign is mental health and criminal justice reform. He said he cares deeply about a myriad of other issues — the environment, education and arts programs and veterans issues — but he feels there's more to be done in the two areas he's focusing on.
Blough, founder of Rehinge and a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has worked at the state and federal level to bring more awareness to mental health issues.
Working with South Carolina legislators, Blough has pushed for better crisis intervention training for law enforcement. Blough said a bill that passed two days ago will require law enforcement across the state to recertify in de-escalation training every three years.
“My campaign is going to be continuing to fight for reforms on a local and state level,” Blough said. “The people who want to see that — that’s where I’m getting the foundation for my campaign.”