A former aide to Vice President Joe Biden is running for the S.C. congressional seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney.
Fran Person, a Tega Cay Democrat and former University of South Carolina football player who worked for Biden for eight years, announced his bid for the state's 5th District congressional seat Monday.
Person left Biden's office in 2014 to work at USC as an assistant to president Harris Pastides and athletics director Ray Tanner. At the university, he worked on projects focused on the well-being of student athletes.
The 33-year-old resigned from his USC job earlier this month.
Given his ties to Biden, Person’s candidacy likely will draw more support from national Democrats and possibly the vice president himself, said S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison.
“There are draft picks, and there are top draft picks,” Harrison said of Person. “He's just an amazing guy. You couldn't find a nicer person than Fran Person, and he's been learning from the best.”
The district covers the north-central part of the state, including fast-growing York and Lancaster counties, bedroom communities for the Charlotte-metro area.
A Tea Party favorite, Mulvaney of Indian Land won the seat in 2010, defeating long-time U.S. Rep. John Spratt, a York Democrat.
The district has changed since Mulvaney beat Spratt, who was in Congress almost three decades and was the U.S. House budget committee chairman.
When its lines were redrawn after the 2010 U.S. Census, the district grew less diverse. African Americans of voting age dropped to 26 percent of the district’s population from 29 percent, making the district less competitive for Democrats.
Mulvaney faced no primary challengers in 2012 and 2014, and beat low-funded Democratic challengers by 11 and 18 points, respectively.
At the end of 2015, Mulvaney had $231,000 to spend in his campaign account. His campaign had $88,600 in debt, a loan that Mulvaney gave to his campaign.
Filing for the office opens at noon on March 16.
A native of Havertown, Pa., Person came to USC on a football scholarship. He studied political science and international studies.
He met Biden when the vice president was visiting campus. Shortly after graduating in 2006, Person went to work for Biden as his driver and assistant. With Biden, Person traveled to 49 countries, including Russia, China, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, which he visited six times.
In a video announcing his candidacy, Person criticizes Mulvaney for going to Washington, D.C., promising "to fix a broken Congress, but the truth is Congress has just gotten more broken since he's been there.”
Person said he hopes to "give people the tools they need to compete – and win. That means we have to invest in education – not cut it. It means we have to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, highways, ports and airports. And it means we need to be giving our men and women in uniform the support they need – not punishing them with a senseless sequester that guts our military spending when we need it the most."
In a statement, Mulvaney said he looks forward to debating the issues with Person. “I imagine our views on key issues will differ wildly as Mr. Person has served in the Obama Administration for many years.”
Person and his wife Krystal, a Columbia native, live in Tega Cay with their two daughters.
Hometown: Tega Cay; from Havertown, Pa.
Political experience: Aide to Vice President Joe Biden for eight years; has never run for public office
Education: University of South Carolina, Bachelor’s in political science; Played football for the USC Gamecocks