Former Congressman Cunningham files paperwork to run for governor

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 3:36 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Former U.S. Congressman Joe Cunningham filed the preliminary paperwork with the state of South Carolina to mount a run for governor of the state.

The South Carolina State Ethics Commission listed Joseph K. Cunningham as having filed for a gubernatorial run in the 2022 election.

No documents related to the filing were immediately available.

Cunningham served one term as a Congressman representing the state’s First Congressional District. He lost his re-election bid in November to former state lawmaker Nancy Mace.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick released a statement on the news Wednesday night saying, in part, “We say, ‘Bring it on.’”

“He’s coming off big problems–losing the SC-01 seat by more than he won it, voting to impeach Donald Trump, voting against a House resolution that condemned the summer rioting and supported law enforcement, and voting with Nancy Pelosi more than 90% of the time, just to name a few,” McKissick said. “Any time a Republican goes head-to-head with a Democrat on the issues, Republicans win. We expect to see the same result in 2022 as we did in 2018–a Republican in the governor’s mansion.”

The South Carolina Democratic Party also released a statement, saying the party is “pleased” Cunningham decided to run, calling him a “marvelous advocate for the voters” of the first district and someone who “has a lot to offer our entire state.”

In February, Cunningham launched a podcast called “Joint Resolution with Joe Cunningham.”

The podcast’s first episode was called “Ending Hyperpartisanship and Tribalism” and featured Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger and former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, both from Virginia. Cunningham said both are “known for their independent streaks.”

Cunningham said the decision to launch the podcast came after he traveled the state and listened to people’s concerns.

When the former Congressman hinted at a big announcement days before introducing the podcast, some speculated that announcement would be that he would run against current S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster.

Cunningham only addressed that speculation by saying his service to South Carolina was “just getting started” on his Twitter account and said he would be sharing his plans for 2022 “very soon.”

Cunningham 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.

Cunningham and his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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