National Republicans have struggled in their efforts to lay a glove on Democrat Joe Cunningham in the purportedly competitive South Carolina first congressional district. As a result, the coastal seat that was supposed to be the GOP’s top takeover target in 2020 is looking increasingly like it is going to be a Democratic romp.
Two months ago, we reported on one of the many hackneyed GOP broadsides against Cunningham – stating that the poorly conceptualized attack against this camera-friendly incumbent was so anemic it made us “wonder whether the campaign to unseat Cunningham (was) really about influencing voters or padding certain insiders’ bank accounts.”
Seriously … the GOP has brought nothing but weak sauce to the table in this race.
Or as we noted, “trite pablum that gets hurled into the ether and brings back nothing.”
Make no mistake: Cunningham could be vulnerable. As we have said for months, “there is a compelling case to be made that Cunningham is not who he says he is.”
In fact (as we have previously reported), the guy is not who he says he is.
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This core vulnerability has not been effectively exploited by national Republicans, however. Instead, they have engaged costly, cookie cutter, cartoonish criticisms – affording Cunningham an opportunity to reinforce his centrist “Lowcountry over Party” spiel.
Basically, the GOP has run a race out of Washington, D.C. while Cunningham has run his campaign out of the Eight-Four-Three (a.k.a. the Charleston, S.C.-centered Palmetto Lowcountry).
This week, though, a revelation from reporter Collin Anderson of The Washington Free Beacon has the potential to unspool the carefully crafted Cunningham persona.
According to the report, Cunningham – who has blasted lobbyists in his television ads – was a lobbyist himself.
Wait … what?
Yes … in fact Cunningham was apparently lobbying back when he was supposed to have been working as an “ocean engineer.”
Is that hypocritical? Yes. Absolutely.
“Congress should represent you – not lobbyists or corporations,” Cunningham stated in one of his television ads.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
(Via: Joe Cunningham for Congress)
Cunningham has also chided lobbyists for placing a “stranglehold over American politics.”
We don’t disagree … but again, that’s pretty rich coming from a guy who was a lobbyist.
Talk about a “takes one to know one” moment …
According to the Free Beacon report, Cunningham filed as a lobbyist in Collier county, Florida while working for Turrell, Hall and Associates – a firm which “provides specialized consulting services in the fields of marine, environmental and coastal engineering.”
So yeah … he was “almost” an ocean engineer.
As a lobbyist for the firm (again, not an engineer), Cunningham represented a local yacht club that was looking to construct a pair of boat docks along the Marco River in south Florida. Environmentalists opposed this project – arguing it endangered the local manatee population. Unfortunately for them (and the manatee), Cunningham’s advocacy helped push the “controversial” construction through over their ecological objections.
Yikes. Bet the eco-radicals pouring millions of dollars into Cunningham’s campaign just love those optics, right?
Our view? While this hit certainly seems like the definitional “too little, too late” offering … it nonetheless represents precisely the sort of attack Republicans should have been using against Cunningham all along.
Go after the candidate, not the party … and tie it all around the same basic theme of habitual dishonesty.
The revelation also underscores the extent to which the GOP’s botched bid to nationalize this race has squandered an opportunity to define Cunningham based on his own vulnerabilities – not the eye roll-inducing nonsense the national GOP has been spouting.
And the state GOP for that matter …
No word yet on whether Cunningham’s opponent in the November election – second-term state representative Nancy Mace – plans on addressing the news in an advertisement from her campaign, but she should.
And so should the groups backing her candidacy …
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