A Summerville legislator announced Wednesday she will challenge U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in next year’s Republican primary, the second lawmaker from her district to do so in as many years.
State Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Summerville, kicked off her race in a coffee shop, flanked by high-ranking legislative Republicans such as House Speaker Jay Lucas and House Majority Leader Gary Simrill who backed her over the former governor.
“We need a new voice. We need a stronger voice,” Arrington told a few dozen supporters. “And that’s why I, Katie Arrington, am here today to announce that I would like to represent South Carolina in the First Congressional District.
Sanford is in his second go-around for the First District, winning the seat in 2013 after holding it from 1995 until 2001. He was elected as governor in 2002 and served until 2010.
Interestingly, Arrington last year won the SC House seat once held by fellow Republican State Rep. Jenny Horne, who unsuccessfully challenged Sanford’s reelection last year. Arrington’s campaign said Wednesday that she would not seek reelection for her Dorchester County seat and focus exclusively on Congress.
“Mark Sanford is more focused with getting himself on CNN than he is focused on dealing with the needs and concerns of our region,” Arrington said. “Simply put: Mark Sanford has become Washington.”
Arrington did not take questions from reporters afterwards and her spokesman said she was not available for an interview with South Carolina Radio Network later Wednesday.
She is the only primary challenger for the Republican incumbent, although two other earlier candidates have dropped out of the 2018 race. Charleston attorney Joe Cunningham is so far the only candidate running for the Democratic nomination next year.