Lake Wylie Republican runs for Congress; Mulvaney ‘too far right’

A local Republican plans to launch a long-shot campaign for Congress on Wednesday, hoping to unseat one of the U.S. House’s most conservative members because he’s gone “too far right.”

Ray Craig, a Clover native and Clemson University graduate who has done mission work in developing countries, says he will launch his campaign in front of the historic Courthouse in York at noon Wednesday. Craig is betting voters tired of partisan gridlock will be willing to vote for a more moderate choice.

“Mick is too right of center, and I’m just right of center,” Craig said.

After studying electrical engineering technologies at Clemson – a time when he also interned with Strom Thurmond’s U.S. Senate office – Craig began a career in tech sales after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1983, a career that took him to Atlanta and Miami.

But he eventually switched career paths and began working with nonprofits and pastoral ministries. He spent time overseas with Mission India and the Haggai Leadership Institute, and worked combating AIDS in Uganda, before he returned to York County in 2002 to care for his aging parents.

While he knows his first bid for office may be a longshot, Craig is undettered. He said he considered challenging former Democratic Congressman John Spratt in 2010 over his support for health care reform, but decided against it because the long-time incumbent was supposedly unbeatable.

“Everybody said, ‘There’s no way. Don’t do it. He’s too entrenched,’” Craig remembers.

Spratt ended up losing the election that year to Mulvaney, who won re-election in 2012 and 2014 without facing a primary challenge.

Arguing against Mulvaney’s brand of conservatism, Craig cites Mulvaney’s support for a potential government shutdown in 2015 to remove federal funding for Planned Parenthood from the budget, and his membership of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group that pushed to depose former House Speaker John Boehner.

“Those who are called upon to legislate have to be able to communicate with each other,” he said. “If he’s been there for six years, he ought to have more friends than his little club.”

Bristow Marchant: 803-329-4062, @BristowatHome