MARK SANFORD HAS A CHALLENGER
As anticipated, South Carolina state representative Katie Arrington is moving forward with plans to challenge incumbent “Republican” Mark Sanford in the Palmetto State’s first congressional district (map).
Arrington filed an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Friday – a sign that she intends to answer the calls for her to run against this embattled incumbent.
News of Arrington’s filing was first reported by Caitlin Byrd of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
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). Since then she has continued to impress us – most recently by rolling out a 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,” we noted in our report on the legislation.
Now … can she beat Sanford?
“She is charismatic, has a great work ethic, and can hammer Sanford on a number of issues,” one GOP consultant following the race told us. “If it remains a one-on-one contest, (her odds) are better than fifty percent.”
Sanford is indeed vulnerable in a primary election. Former state representative Jenny Horne ran a surprisingly close race against him last spring, and the “Luv Gov” continues to be dogged by some unresolved campaign finance allegations and potentially serious personal problems.
Recently even more bad news came down on his head …
Last week’s decision by a government-run utility to abandon a heavily subsidized nuclear power plant project in Jenkinsville, S.C. created some serious “fallout” for Sanford – who let a bill become law that put energy consumers on the hook for its costs.
The failure of the V.C. Summer project means $9 billion in investment is up in smoke, 5,000 jobs are gone and the state’s energy future is very much in doubt.
Arrington is expected to hammer Sanford relentlessly on that issue … as she should.
Even if Sanford survives the GOP primary, he’ll have a credible Democratic opponent to deal with. Two months ago, Lowcountry attorney Joe Cunningham announced his decision to challenge Sanford in next November’s general election.
“Cunningham is a dream candidate for Democrats,” we wrote at the time. “He’s young, articulate, attractive and likely capable of drawing progressive populist support.”
Bottom line? Sanford – who has yet to lose an election in his lengthy political career – is staring down a very tough fight next year.
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Banner via Sam Holland for S.C. House