“Joe Cunningham is a down-home guy who loves the Lowcountry and doesn’t care about the partisan labels that politicians try to use to divide us. By working across the aisle with Republicans, Joe is putting the Lowcountry first in Congress: passing bipartisan legislation to ban offshore drilling, improve veterans’ health benefits and lower the cost of prescription drugs. It’s an honor to serve with Joe Cunningham and I look forward to sharing a six pack of Lowcountry brews with Joe after South Carolinians re-elect him this November.” – DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos
To: Interested Parties
From: Avery Jaffe, DCCC Regional Press Secretary
Date: June 9, 2020
Subject: The Case Against Nancy Mace
The primary results for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District put Representative Joe Cunningham in an excellent position to win re-election.
The general election contrast between Rep. Cunningham and his new opponent, State Representative Nancy Mace, couldn’t be clearer: While Joe is bringing the Lowcountry’s values to Congress, Mace is trying to bring Washington-style politics to the Lowcountry.
In his first term in Congress, Joe has been consistently ranked among the most bipartisan members of Congress, bringing a commonsense approach to working across the aisle on the critical issues that matter to people across the Lowcountry: castigating special interests, standing up for our veterans, supporting local small businesses, stopping offshore drilling, protecting health care and lowering drug costs . Joe’s politics are one of civility, reasonability and compassion: it’s the Lowcountry way, and Joe puts the Lowcountry first.
That couldn’t stand in sharper contrast to State Representative Nancy Mace, a largely unknown, unprofessional and volatile candidate whom certain party leaders have held at arm’s length due to their concerns with her viability as a general election contender.
From not-so-humble roots as a longtime political operative, State Representative Mace is just another politician who is part of the problem that Joe’s trying to fix, and she’s just plain wrong on the priorities for Lowcountry families and seniors.
Mace has stumbled into the general election after committing major gaffes in the primary contest’s lone debate. Additionally, Mace had to be bailed out of the primary by a swampy special interest super PAC that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on her behalf. Even fellow Republicans criticized Mace for unabashedly cozying up to the Washington special interests during the primary.
Meanwhile, Rep. Cunningham has rejected all PAC money and was recently recognized by the Lugar Center as the Most Bipartisan Freshman in the House. In his first 17 months in his new job, Cunningham has spent his time working across the aisle and delivering for Lowcountry veterans and small businesses.
Just as he did in 2018, Cunningham has consolidated and maintained support from a broad spectrum of Republicans, Democrats and independents across his district and is raising the resources to win re-election. Well-liked in the district and personifying Lowcountry values, Rep. Cunningham is in excellent position to hold this unique seat.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
HEADLINE: Erick Ericson: “No Way in Hell Will I Support Nancy Mace” [RedState, 8/14/13]
“She views increasing eligibility age and income means-testing as ways to keep Social Security solvent.” [Lowcountry Source, 5/27/20]
“Her opponents unloaded a barrage of criticism against her, casting Mace as… a candidate hand-picked by Washington insiders” [Post and Courier, 5/26/20]
“Nancy Mace, McCarthy’s choice to run against Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), implied at a 2013 forum that cold weather disproved climate change. Cunningham won his Charleston seat in 2018 largely due to environmental issues.” [E&E News, 3/27/20]
HEADLINE: “President Trump approves Rep. Cunningham’s bill to assist veterans” [NBC Charleston, 4/13/20]
HEADLINE: “Gov. McMaster joins SC Democrat Joe Cunningham’s victory lap on offshore drilling ban” [The Post and Courier, 9/13/19]
HEADLINE: “Rep. Joe Cunningham donates blood for COVID-19 research” [ABC Charleston, 4/10/20]
HEADLINE: “Joe Six Pack: Cunningham turned away trying to take Chs. craft beer onto the U.S. House floor” [Charleston City Paper, 1/11/19]
Nancy Mace: Part of the Problem with Politics
THREATENING THE LOWCOUNTRY’S WAY OF LIFE
Nancy Mace tells voters she’s against offshore oil drilling in South Carolina, but her campaign is backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars from pro-drilling groups. Even worse, she supports their agenda: opposing a comprehensive ban on offshore oil drilling… but showing up when the news cameras are there.
Without a federal ban on drilling off nearby places like coastal North Carolina and Georgia, the Lowcountry’s water and coasts are at risk from nearby oil spills just a few miles from South Carolina’s coasts – disasters that would cost billions to South Carolina’s vibrant tourism and food and beverage economy.
Thankfully, Rep. Cunningham worked across the aisle to pass a federal ban on offshore drilling through the U.S. House of Representatives – a measure that even conservative South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster supports and praised Cunningham’s leadership on.
Beyond drilling, everyone who calls the Lowcountry home understands the stakes and challenges of living life at or just above sea level. The Lowcountry flooded a record-breaking 89 times last year. While leaders from both parties have come together to address South Carolina’s flooding problem, Nancy Mace opposed efforts to help flood victims and update laws to protect flood areas. Adding insult to injury, Mace claimed “we don’t have a real big issue” with flooding in the Lowcountry. Yeah, right.
PLAIN WRONG ON LOWCOUNTRY PRIORITIES
At a public debate, Mace pledged to privatize retirement programs like Social Security and Medicare – risking seniors’ guaranteed benefits on the stock market. She also announced newfound support for the so-called “FairTax”– a reckless scheme to raise costs on seniors and working families across the Lowcountry by 23 percent, while also calling for a “flat tax” and a “consumption tax.”
Those missteps will live on to haunt State Representative Mace across the retiree-heavy South Carolina Lowcountry, a community where thousands of new residents head south each year in search of an easier, lower-cost way of life. Sadly, this incident is only the latest example of Mace’s wrongheaded priorities for the Lowcountry.
Mace has promised to derail health laws that protect people with pre-existing conditions, eliminating coverage for over 321,000 South Carolinians living in the 1st District. Her “plan” would strip protections for those with pre-existing conditions and raise health care costs on Lowcountry families.
Inside of the South Carolina General Assembly, State Representative Mace sided with big pharmaceutical companies, voting against common-sense drug monitoring that would have helped fight the state’s opioid addiction crisis. Mace was one of just 14 lawmakers who voted against monitoring these dangerous drugs, letting big drugmakers continue to make billions in profits at the expense of South Carolina families who are hurting.
In contrast, Joe has voted to lower prescription drug costs for Lowcountry seniors and working families – keeping a key campaign promise. His bill to help Lowcountry veterans access health care without having to travel to a VA was passed by bipartisan majorities and signed into law by President Trump. It’s clear Joe has the right priorities for the Lowcountry.
JUST ANOTHER SWAMPY POLITICIAN
In this campaign, State Representative Mace will spare no expense to attempt to present herself as an “outsider,” but that just isn’t the truth. Mace is a consummate political insider who is part of the problem with politics today. A shameless self-promoter, Mace’s foul-mouthed and salacious attempts for attention won’t mesh well with a reserved electorate that favors down-home, authentic leadership to climber politicians who put on airs.
Mace’s famously frosty relationship with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley stems from her co-ownership of FITS News, a political gossip and bikini website that falsely accused Ambassador Haley of cheating on her husband during her 2010 campaign for South Carolina governor, again in 2013, and called Nikki Haley demeaning and explicit names. Responding to the ensuing criticism, Mace said the website was “speaking the truth on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of the Palmetto state.”
Along with spreading false sex allegations, the site routinely posted lewd images of women. Mace was the brains of the website and served as a promoter and site editor in addition to her co-ownership.
Mace went on to challenge Senator Lindsey Graham in an embarrassing, quixotic primary bid that saw Mace call Graham a “Nancy boy” before garnering a whopping 6 percent of the vote. It’s not the only foul-mouthed name-calling she’s engaged in: Mace insulted the late Senator John McCain and condemned McCain’s vote to protect health care for South Carolinians with pre-existing conditions as “bullshit.”
After accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from PACs and corporations and cussing up a storm, Mace is Katie Arrington 2.0: too partisan, too volatile, and just another rubber stamp for a special interest-funded agenda.
In strong contrast, Joe Cunningham is keeping his promises to remain an independent voice for the Lowcountry in Congress, working with Republicans while other politicians play political games. Whether it’s passing bipartisan legislation to ban offshore drilling, improving veterans’ health benefits or lowering the cost of prescription drugs for seniors, Joe is putting the Lowcountry first.
PATH TO VICTORY
Joe Cunningham is a unique figure in South Carolina politics and his authentic message of bipartisanship, common sense, civility and putting the Lowcountry first has powered him to strong popularity with Democrats, Republicans and independents across South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
Look at the counties in and around Charleston, S.C. that delivered Rep. Cunningham to victory in 2018 and you’ll find those same types of voters turning out in record numbers in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary in February 2020.
Peter Hamby, 2/29/20:
Da ‘burbs are on fiyah: Over 60,000 voted in Charleston County. Breaks the 2008 record by 15,000. Dorchester and Berkeley Counties — Charleston suburbs — also breaking 2008 records.
Josh Kraushaar, 2/29/20:
@mikememoli reports on MSNBC that there was unusually high turnout in white moderate Republican precincts around Charleston. Suburban voters. (Dems picked up the SC-01 House seat on the heels of these indy voters.) One of the key swing votes in the 2020 general election.
This year’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary turnout was a continuation of the suburban realignment unfolding nationwide at a rapid clip. It’s combined with the region’s explosive population growth as more people are moving into the South Carolina Lowcountry year after year.
Between 2010 and 2018, SC-01’s citizen voting age population increased by nearly a quarter, the largest increase of any district in South Carolina. That increase reflects the tremendous growth the region is undergoing, leading to tens of thousands of new Democrats, independents, and Cunningham Republicans living and voting in the 1st District.
Suburban realignment and regional growth, combined with higher, presidential-level African American turnout bolstered by Vice President Biden and a strong U.S. Senate challenger in Jaime Harrison at the top of the ticket put Rep. Cunningham in a very favorable position to win re-election this fall.
The path to victory for Rep. Cunningham also includes his vast financial advantage over State Representative Mace, whose ill-fated decision to put herself in charge of her own campaign has resulted in utterly drained cash reserves and an embarrassing Q1 2020 burn rate of 68 percent without a single dollar spent towards TV or radio advertising costs.
In strong contrast, Rep. Cunningham’s campaign has completely rejected all PAC money and enters the general election with more than $2.6 million in his campaign war chest. Cunningham has emerged as one of House Democrats’ top fundraisers and today holds a near-insurmountable cash on hand advantage.
Joe Cunningham defied the political odds in 2018. Now, with strong grassroots support, a sterling in-district bipartisan brand and a robust campaign war chest that has rejected all PAC money, Cunningham is well-positioned to keep putting the Lowcountry first in the years to come.