Politics & Government

SC clown who ran for Congress dies

Steve Lough
Steve Lough

A professional clown who made headlines when he ran for Congress in South Carolina last year has died.

Steve Lough passed away Saturday, Feb. 23, at the age of 53, according to an obituary from Kornegay Funeral Home of Lugoff.

Lough, a Camden native, ran for South Carolina’s 5th District seat in the U.S. House in 2018, openly campaigning on his career as a clown. His campaign distributed photos of the candidate and his wife in full clown makeup. His motto was “Aim High, Vote Lough.”

Steve Lough poses in clown makeup. Lough, a candidate for Congress in SC’s 5th District, worked as a clown for Ringling Brothers circus.

“They joke that the president and Congress are all clowns,” Lough said in announcing his candidacy. “Well, in my professional opinion, they are the worst clowns I’ve ever seen.”

Lough’s campaign “was based on wisdom he learned from his mother, and from living and working with people from all over the world and from all walks of life,” his obituary said.

With dual degrees from Dartmouth College and the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Clown College, the Camden native “fulfilled a childhood dream and ran away to join the circus.” He toured with Ringling Brothers for much of his career and, in his later years, performed for children throughout the Carolinas.

He performed anti-bullying routines in North Carolina schools, an experience that led him to seek public office after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Lough and two other Democratic challengers lost their party’s primary to Sumter Democrat Archie Parnell, who lost his second attempt to beat Republican Ralph Norman. Parnell’s campaign was rocked by revelations of his past domestic abuse against his former wife.

Memorials in Lough’s name are requested to be made to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands.

Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.