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Katie Arrington Courted For Congress




U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford has troubles … and if you wait long enough, he’ll be sure to tell you all about them (in nauseating, navel-gazing detail).

The struggle has always been real for Sanford … especially the struggle to keep his mouth shut about his many, um, struggles.

Are people still interested in hearing “Representative TMI” wax personal and philosophical, though?  Or have they had enough of his chronic narcissism?

That decision will ultimately be up to the voters of South Carolina’s first congressional district (map), which runs along the Lowcountry coast of the Palmetto State.

Alternatives to Sanford are emerging, and one of Sanford’s biggest “troubles” in the months to come could wind up being the attractive female legislator striking the Evita pose in the picture above …

Two candidates have already announced their intentions to run against the “Luv Gov” in the June 2018 “Republican” primary for the Palmetto State’s first congressional district.  Last month, businessman and Marine reservist fighter pilot Ted Fienning jumped into the race, and defense analyst Tom Perez announced his candidacy against Sanford back in January.

(Perez’s announcement broke exclusively on this website, incidentally).

Both Fienning and Perez are credible candidates – and Fienning is reportedly capable of giving Sanford a (literal) run for his money in terms of fundraising, an indispensable part of campaigning at which Sanford has historically excelled.

As compelling as Fienning and Perez are, though, many political experts – including Sanford himself, we’re told – believe a female candidate would be much more viable against him than a male one.

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Exhibit A?  The surprisingly competitive 2016 GOP primary campaign waged against him by S.C. Rep. Jenny Horne – whom Sanford vanquished by a shockingly small margin.

Did Horne’s gender have anything to do with her beating expectations by a solid twenty percentage points?  Perspectives differ.  Some say Sanford – who was projected to beat Horne by a thirty-point spread – simply chose to keep his money in his pocket and run out the clock.

Speaking of, that race produced some interesting campaign finance allegations against Sanford – and let’s not forget that nearly a year later, he has yet to be cleared in a child abuse case revolving around allegations involving one of his nieces.

So he’s got some drama …

Anyway, we addressed the “Women Versus Sanford” speculation back in January, discussing in detail a few prospective female candidates who could conceivably make things interesting against the third-term congressman next spring.

Among them?  S.C. Rep. Katie Arrington, whom we referred to in our prior post as “perhaps the most enticing option against Sanford.”

“Arrington is not only a policy and operational wonk, she’s tenacious and well-connected financially – attributes could prove tremendously useful in a campaign against the wonkish, well-funded Sanford,” we noted at the time.

Arrington pulled off a major upset last spring when she defeated former governor Nikki Haley’s preferred candidate, Carroll Duncan, in a Republican primary election for S.C. House District 94 (map here).

“She knows a little something about slaying giants,” one of Arrington’s colleagues told us.

Arrington has continued to impress us – most recently by rolling out a very substantive reform bill calling for term limits on committee chairmen in the S.C. General Assembly.

This is a long-overdue, urgently needed reform – and Arrington showed guts going up against her leaders in proposing it.

To be sure, Arrington has cast plenty of votes we don’t like – including one on behalf of a massive and totally unnecessary gasoline tax hike – but she’s certainly not among the tax-and-spend troglodytes at the S.C. State House who reflexively rubber stamp South Carolina’s liberal legislative agenda.

She’s a thinker … even when (in our humble estimation) she gets it wrong.

Whereas most young lawmakers follow their leaders like lemmings, Arrington has earned a reputation as a “tough commit” who insists upon poring through spreadsheets and fiscal impact studies before lending her support to a bill.  And while we may not always agree with where she winds up, it’s hard to argue with her substantive, detail-oriented method of getting there.

In a state dominated by corrupt self-dealers, Arrington strikes us as a rare honest broker – a lawmaker who eschews political calculus and works hard to arrive at what she genuinely believes to be the best decision for her constituents.

Arrington confirmed that she has been approached about running for the first district seat but declined to discuss her future plans.  Obviously we’ll be keeping a close eye on her political future … whether she runs for congress or not.

Banner via Sam Holland for S.C. House