COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/WCSC) - Former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham has filed the first necessary paperwork to run for the governor of South Carolina.
The Democrat lost his re-election bid in 2020 for South Carolina’s first Congressional District. Republican Rep. Nancy Mace won that race.
Records show Cunningham filed preliminary paperwork with the S.C. Ethics Commission that is required to raise money as a gubernatorial candidate.
WIS has reached out to Cunningham for a statement. He has not officially announced his candidacy at this point.
The South Carolina GOP said it welcomes the former congressman’s challenge.
“Any time a Republican goes head-to-head with a Democrat on the issues, Republicans win,” SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick said. “We expect to see the same result in 2022 as we did in 2018 -- a Republican in the governor’s mansion.”
Cunningham served one term in Congress.
He pulled one of the biggest upsets in 2018 when he became the first Democrat to flip a U.S. House seat from Republicans in South Carolina since 1986. National Republicans started targeting his seat just days after his election in the hopes of regaining a majority in the House.
In his final speech on the House floor, Cunningham slammed partisanship.
He said he witnessed his colleagues “embracing conspiracy theories or arguments detached from reality while knowing better and sometimes admitting so privately.” He also said he saw members mock President Donald Trump behind his back and praise him to his face, “loathe him in private and worship him on television.”
He called it a form of “self-preservation” from people he says are “more interested in protecting themselves and their party than protecting our country, more interested in keeping their job than doing their job.”
“Such reckless and selfish behavior is creating a system where most politicians can’t lose, and most Americans can’t win,” he said.
Cunningham is listed along with McMaster, James E. Smith Jr., and Gary Votour on the State Ethics Commission’s website.