Mark Sanford has drawn a new challenger for his congressional seat — this time a Democrat.
Joe Cunningham, a Charleston attorney, said Wednesday he would run for the Democratic nomination in the coastal 1st District.
Cunningham is the first Democrat to announce he will run for the seat in 2018. Sanford, a former two-term S.C. governor, has held the seat since 2013.
Cunningham’s announcement focused on pocketbook issues. “I know student loans are too high because I’m still paying mine back,” Cunningham said. “I know health care is expensive because my family had to purchase ours. And I know starting a small business is tough because my wife and I have started several.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
Cunningham also signaled he hopes to tie Sanford, R-Charleston, to GOP President Donald Trump, who won only 53 percent of the 1st District vote in 2016.
“The Lowcountry deserves a congressman who will be a check on Donald Trump, unlike Mark Sanford, who votes with him nearly 90 percent of the time,” he said.
Cunningham also tweeted Wednesday that he would not vote for Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for speaker of the House. Cunningham said Democrats need “new leadership” to “win again.”
Two Charleston Republicans — businessman Ted Fienning and defense analyst Tom Perez — had said they planned to run against Sanford in next year’s GOP primary. Both subsequently dropped out, Perez citing an upcoming deployment and Fienning saying he needs to focus on his family and business.