Politics & Government

Sanford draws primary challengers

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, is drawing primary challengers for 2018.

Ted Fienning, a Charleston businessman and Marine Corps Reserve pilot, has announced he will run against Sanford in the Republican primary for the 1st District congressional nomination.

He joins another challenger with military ties, defense analyst and Navy reservist Tom Perez, also of Charleston.

Fienning joined the Marines after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served as a fighter pilot. He still flies out of the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort as a reservist.

He cofounded the company Babiators, which makes children’s sunglasses.

Fienning said in a statement he wants to focus on reducing the national debt in his campaign.

“We are saddling future generations with... annual federal budget deficits and a $21 trillion national debt that has been ignored by career politicians that are all talk and no action,” he said.

Perez, meanwile, is a Citadel graduate and eight-year active-duty Navy veteran who previously worked for the Department of Defense as an acquisiton professional, overseeing $10 million in government contracts.

He now works as a private consultant in Charleston’s defense industry, according to his campaign site. There, he promises to focus on military issues if elected.

“The cost of war includes bringing our warfighters home, making them whole again and retraining them so they can enter the workforce and get back to lives that they put on hold to defend our nation,” Perez says.

Fienning and Perez won’t be the first challenge Sanford has faced since he returned to Congress in 2013. He defeated state Rep. Jenny Horne in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote. Sanford then went on to defeat Democrat Dimitri Cherney by 20 points in the general election.