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Horne considering bid for Congress

VIDEO: Rep. Jenny Horne on the Confederate flag

A very emotional Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester) says if the House amends the Senate bill, "We are telling the people of Charleston 'we don't care about you.'
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A very emotional Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester) says if the House amends the Senate bill, "We are telling the people of Charleston 'we don't care about you.'

State Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Dorchester, is considering running for the 1st District congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston.

“I am certainly thinking about (it), but I have not made a decision yet,” Horne said Tuesday.

Horne was thrust into the national spotlight during the Confederate flag debate in the S.C. House last week, making an impassioned plea for fellow House members to stop debating and considering amendments, and vote to remove the banner.

After the flag was taken down Friday, Horne said she has been trying to get back to her normal routine of practicing law. She said she has received positive feedback from across the country, including cards, letters, emails and flowers.

“I’m focusing in on my family and my work, and, certainly, I will have time to contemplate a congressional run in my future,” Horne said, adding making a decision is not something that she is in a hurry to do.

Horne said she has heard from many who want to see a woman in the S.C. congressional delegation. “I’m getting a lot of positive response from female executives, in particular, who feel like we really do need a woman in our congressional delegation.”

Former Gov. Sanford, who notoriously vanished to Argentina while governor to see his then-mistress, had a political resurrection in 2013, placing first among 16 GOP challengers for former U.S. Rep. Tim Scott’s seat. Sanford went on to beat Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch, winning 54 percent of the vote.

Last year, Sanford faced no opposition and was re-elected to the seat, which represents parts of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties.

Winthrop political scientist Karen Kedrowski said if Horne runs, she will have difficulty in the Republican primary against Sanford.

Some conservative voters would not be happy with the position that Horne took on the flag, Kedrowski said. “She’s going to be identified from now on out, for a very long time, as the one who saved the effort to remove the flag.”

Sanford also supported removing the flag from the State House grounds. But, since removing the banner was not a federal issue, he did not have to vote, Kedrowski said.

Horne also is a moderate, and in S.C. Republican primaries, “moderates get painted as liberals,” Kedrowski said.

“It’s just very hard to unseat an incumbent member of the House of Representatives,” Kedrowski said, adding incumbents — like Sanford — typically have the advantage of significant name recognition.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.