South Carolina

GOP fields third challenger looking to oust SC Democrat Joe Cunningham from Congress

A Lowcountry town councilwoman soon will join a small but growing field of Republicans vying to take back South Carolina’s 1st District congressional seat, currently held by Charleston Democrat Joe Cunningham.

Republican Kathy Landing, a financial planner first elected to Mount Pleasant Town Council in November 2017, on Monday will announce her candidacy for the coastal congressional seat, according to her campaign.

So far, two other Republicans have filed federal paperwork indicating they intend to seek the 1st District seat: Mike Covert of Bluffton, a Beaufort County Councilman, and Logan Cunningham (no relation to the congressman), a Hilton Head Island school teacher who lives in Bluffton.

South Carolina state Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Berkeley, also is weighing a bid for the congressional seat. National Republicans have been courting Mace as a potential candidate who could post a threat to Cunningham, one of the GOP’s top targets in 2020.

Cunningham, a freshman Democrat, pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the midterms last year, flipping South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District seat, which hadn’t sent a Democrat to Washington since 1981.

Landing has enlisted the help of Michael Mule, a Charleston political consultant who worked on Katie Arrington’s campaign. The former Republican state lawmaker from Summerville beat then-U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary, but lost to Cunningham in the midterm election.

At one point, Arrington indicated an interest in a rematch with Cunningham in 2020. However, she now has a job with the Department of Defense, and sources familiar with recruitment efforts told The State they have not spoken to her about her intentions.

Asked to respond, Arrington told The State last month that as a Defense Department employee, she cannot comment and referred a reporter to the federal agency, which could not be reached.

Mule has partnered with Lance Williams, former chief of staff and current general consultant for U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, for Landing’s campaign.

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