SC Politics

South Carolina Senate Candidate Files For Office Wearing Gas Mask

“The political swamp stinks that bad!”

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A Lowcountry lawyer seeking a seat in the South Carolina Senate donned a gas mask in protest of the Columbia, S.C. “swamp” this week. Attorney Tom Fernandez of Summerville, S.C. filed paperwork on Monday (March 18, 2024) to run for S.C. Senate District 39.

“Yes, I wore a gas mask,” Fernandez wrote on his social media. “The political swamp stinks that bad!”

Fernandez bills himself as “a dedicated advocate for individual liberty and personal responsibility.” A graduate of Coastal Carolina and the Charleston School of Law, he also has a master’s degree in business from The Citadel – South Carolina’s military college.

(Click to View)

Lowcountry attorney Tom Fernandez signs his paperwork for S.C. Senate District 39. (Facebook)

Fernandez is running for a seat that’s been held since December 2020 by Vernon Stephens, a Democrat from Bowman, S.C. Stephens, 66, won a contested partisan primary four years ago – and then went on to defeat his Republican challenger in the general election with 56.47 percent of the vote.

His victory filled a seat vacated by long-serving Democrat John Matthews, also of Bowman, S.C. Matthews spent nine years in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1975-1984 before being elected to the State Senate – where he stayed from 1985-2020.

After winning the race to replace Matthews four years ago, Stephens is seeking another term in 2024. His path to victory won’t be quite as easy this time, though, as legislative and congressional leaders redrew the Palmetto State’s political boundaries three years ago.

As previously configured, District 39 included parts of Berkeley, Calhoun, Colleton, Dorchester and Orangeburg counties. The new district includes none of Calhoun County, none of Colleton County, significantly less of Orangeburg County and much more of Berkeley County – including the massive Cane Bay Plantation, where Fernandez resides with his wife and six daughters.



Cane Bay is part of an explosion of residential growth in and around the Interstate 26 corridor – a population boom stretching as far as thirty-five miles northwest of the tip of the peninsula in downtown Charleston, S.C. This boom has fundamentally redrawn the Palmetto State’s legislative maps – moving districts from the Midlands region of the state further south.

Stephens has attracted our attention on several occasions. Earlier this year, we commented on his bizarre definition of “hate crimes.” Three years ago, we pointed out his hypocrisy on an abortion ban he pledged to support – yet voted against.

The filing period for partisan primary elections began last Friday and closes at 12:00 p.m. EDT on April 1, 2024. Primaries will be held on June 11, 2024, and if no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, runoff elections will be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024.



(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.



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Goody3 Top fan March 19, 2024 at 3:01 pm

This guy has WAY too many screws loose!

Unprecedented Levels of Cringe March 19, 2024 at 5:13 pm

I see professional clowns no longer wear the face paint.

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan March 19, 2024 at 6:52 pm

Fau-lex – check
Tie chain – check
Faux “tacticool” helmet with optional Gadsden “morale” patch – check
Amazon M-40 promask look alike – check (may want to check the sensitive items locker at the state guard armory, they may have a mask missing)
CSOL degree – check!
Poser ready status – go! His Facebook page is quite interesting…

Where’d his wedding band go between his “I registered” photo and the “simulated document signing” photo – maybe a little Kate Middleton action?

Anonymous March 23, 2024 at 1:28 pm

Maybe cancer should bite you or someone in your family. Facebook?: that says it all. A Colonel your not. Classless-check.


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