SC Politics

South Carolina First Congressional District: Jim DeMint Endorses Kathy Landing

Former U.S. senator backs challenger over frontrunner in key national race …

In her bid to take the fight to frontrunner Nancy Mace in the South Carolina first congressional district, Mount Pleasant, S.C. town councilwoman Kathy Landing received a huge helping hand on Tuesday. Landing’s GOP primary campaign was backed by former U.S. senator Jim DeMint – who has remained active in Palmetto politics since resigning his post in Washington, D.C. in January 2013.

According to DeMint, Landing possesses “conservative acumen” – and is best positioned to defeat Democratic incumbent Joe Cunningham in the general election this fall.

“Kathy Landing is the conservative candidate who can beat Joe Cunningham,” DeMint said in a statement endorsing Landing’s candidacy.  “Kathy is principled, understands and respects the Constitution, and has the education and business experience to make an immediate impact in Congress.  Kathy is not afraid to take on the inefficiencies of Washington. Rather, Kathy will always fight for what is right and in the best interest of the Lowcountry, state, and nation.  I am grateful to call Kathy Landing a friend and honored to endorse and support her in winning back South Carolina’s first congressional district.”

Landing has been working hard in recent weeks to make strides in what appears to be a decidedly uphill climb against Mace – the runaway leader in fundraising and polling as well as grassroots and institutional support.

The problem? Mace, a second-term state lawmaker who has captured the eye of national Republicans, is working hard, too.

Within the last two weeks, both campaigns have released television ads (here and here) – and dueling endorsements.

DeMint’s endorsement is a big one, though. While his South Carolina-based groups have left a lot to be desired in terms of the “reforms” they are advancing – the 68-year-old Greenville, S.C. native remains a known commodity among GOP primary voters across the state (although his influence is probably much stronger in the socially conservative Upstate region of South Carolina than it is in the Lowcountry).

DeMint is also well-connected with many national conservative groups – meaning his endorsement has the potential to provide a fundraising boost and a wave of fresh institutional support for Landing.

Most importantly? DeMint’s nod could convince former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley – who has sparred with Mace in the past – to jump into the race on Landing’s behalf.

Landing and Mace have yet to take off the gloves against one another – but the frontrunner did throw a jab at Landing in releasing her first television ad earlier this week. Mace didn’t mention Landing in her spot, but in a fundraising email accompanying the ad’s unveiling she accused Landing of “trying to buy the election with her own money.”

“I have to raise every penny,” Mace wrote. “That’s why I am working so hard to earn this seat, not try to buy it.”

Mace and Landing (below) are not alone in the race, either.

(Click to view)

(Via: Kathy Landing for Congress)

Two other candidates – “Bikers for Trump” founder Chris Cox of Mount Pleasant, S.C. and entrepreneur Brad Mole of Bluffton, S.C. – are also campaigning for this seat, but so far neither of them have managed to generate much in the way of financial, grassroots or institutional support.

Whoever emerges victorious on the GOP side will have their work cut out for them in the fall. Cunningham pulled off a remarkable upset in November 2018 to put this seat in Democratic hands for the first time in nearly four decades. As a “blue” incumbent in one of the few swing districts across the nation, he is likely to continue reaping the financial windfall from national liberal interests eager to keep him in his seat.

As he did in 2018, Cunningham has campaigned on a non-partisan shtick – and gotten some crossover support for his efforts.

Also the liberal money pouring into the district has (so far) smartly reinforced this “moderate” perception.

Of course, Cunningham staked himself out decisively in December when he joined Democrats in their failed impeachment bid against Trump. Then there is his wife Amanda Cunningham, the proverbial loose cannon.

Bottom line? Whoever winds up with the GOP nomination (our money is still on Mace), this is going to be an incredibly entertaining battle come November …




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