U.S. Senate's first woman combat veteran and two South Carolina Republicans running for governor are expected to attend U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan's annual Faith & Freedom barbecue Aug. 28 in Anderson.
Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa will be the keynote speaker at the fundraiser for Duncan. Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, who are both seeking the GOP nomination for governor in 2018, have been invited to speak, as well as South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, state GOP chairman Drew McKissick and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
The event also will feature a ceremony honoring veterans, active members of the military and first responders.
Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014. During her campaign, she received widespread attention for an ad explaining how her experience castrating pigs would help her cut "pork" in Congress. She attained the rank of lieutenant colonel while serving more than two decades in the army reserve and national guard, including a yearlong deployment to Kuwait in 2003-2004.
"Joni is a strong conservative who has fought the against the status quo in Washington from day one," Duncan said in a statement issued by his office. "I know the public will be excited to welcome a fighter like Joni to South Carolina!"
Ernst said she is "looking forward to a night of South Carolina BBQ and discussions about conservative solutions to ensure our freedoms are protected and our voices are heard in Washington."
McMaster and Bryant will be seeking to build political support as they appear at the same event for the first time since Bryant kicked off his campaign for governor last month.
This will be Duncan's seventh annual Faith & Freedom barbecue. The event at the Civic Center of Anderson is touted as the largest gathering of conservatives in South Carolina. Tickets are $35 per person or $60 for a couple. Children under 12 can attend for free with an adult. Veterans, active members of the military, first responders and their families also can attend for free by registering for special tickets at www.JeffDuncan.com.
Last year, about 20 demonstrators gathered outside the civic center to protest an appearance by illegal immigration foe Joe Arpaio, who was the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona at the time. Arpaio was defeated by a Democratic challenger in November and he was convicted last week of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order.
Duncan, a Republican from Laurens, is serving his fourth term representing a district that covers much of western South Carolina. The district includes part of Greenville and all of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.
Mary Geren, a Democrat from Anderson, is running against Duncan in 2018.