Politics & Government

SC Democrat who flipped US House seat has $1M in the bank for 2020 re-election

Joe Cunningham the day after defeating Katie Arrington for SC Congress seat

Congressman-elect Joe Cunningham holds a press conference after a call by his opponent Katie Arrington, conceding the race.
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Congressman-elect Joe Cunningham holds a press conference after a call by his opponent Katie Arrington, conceding the race.

Vulnerable freshman Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham of Charleston raised more than $615,000 in the second quarter of 2019 in his campaign to hold on to his coastal congressional seat.

Cunningham’s campaign announced this week having more than $980,000 cash on hand. Detailed campaign finance reports are due Monday.

All told, Cunningham’s campaign announced it had raised nearly $1.4 million from more than 2,500 donors since he pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 election, reclaiming a seat that had been held by Republicans since 1981.

“Whether it’s stopping offshore drilling or becoming the most independent member of Congress, Joe Cunningham is keeping his promises to South Carolina, and that’s why so many Lowcountry voters are supporting his campaign,” Cunningham finance director Allie Watters said in a prepared statement.

Republican challengers, though, have been lining up to oppose Cunningham.

On Monday, Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox of Mount Pleasant became the latest entrant into the race.

Cox’s campaign said it had raised money from 100 individual donors within 24 hours of announcing his campaign, but declined to release a total amount.

Last month, state Rep. Nancy Mace of Daniel Island announced she would run for the GOP primary to unseat Cunningham after having been elected to her first full term in November.

Mace on Wednesday told The State she has raised and has approximately $150,000 in cash since launching her campaign two weeks ago.

Financial planner and Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing, Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert of Bluffton and Logan Cunningham, a Hilton Head Island school teacher who lives in Bluffton, have also said they are running for the seat.

Joseph Iaco, treasurer for Covert’s campaign, said the Bluffton businessman raised roughly $70,000 in the second quarter and about $105,000 total since he announced his candidacy in January. Iaco said Covert’s campaign had about $47,000 cash on hand.

Representatives for Landing’s and Logan Cunningham’s campaigns could not be reached for comment.

The campaigns will not file an official fundraising report, detailing specific contributors, for the year’s second quarter with the Federal Elections Commission until Monday at the latest.

The race could get expensive as the district becomes a battle ground for national Democrats trying to hold on to congressional seats and the GOP trying to wrest control away.

The state GOP party chairman, who previously said Cunningham is a top target for state and national Republicans in 2020, took a swing Wednesday.

“We don’t doubt that Joe Cunningham and national liberal groups think that they can once again buy this seat, but when it is all said and done, the 2020 campaign will be about issues — and Cunningham and the Democrat Party are completely out of step with everyday South Carolina values,” South Carolina GOP Party Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement.

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