Joe Cunningham, South Carolina's gubernatorial hopeful, was flying 120 mph towards the sky before he spoke to dozens of supporters at a park near Myrtle Beach.
Slingshot, an amusement park on Ocean Boulevard that promises 5 Gs of force upon takeoff, is a metaphor for Cunninghams rapid political rise in South Carolina. His victory in 2018's 1st Congressional District election stunned political observers across the country. He became the first Democrat to represent the reliably Republican district in almost 40 years.
This would be a new campaign. I wasn't sure what I was referring to when I said it. It was a great time in Myrtle Beach. It is a blessing to be alive. #46CountyTour pic.twitter.com/pDsRIoIUB1 Joe Cunningham, (@JoeCunninghamSC), June 26, 2021
Cunningham narrowly lost 2020 reelection and announced earlier this month that he will run for Governor of South Carolina in 2022. Cunningham will be entering the race for the gubernatorial seat, a daunting task similar to the difficult odds he faced in his 2018 congressional campaign. Six of the eight South Carolina governors in the past eight years have been Republicans.
Cunningham was not afraid to share this truth with the crowd at Myrtle Beach on Sat.
He said that he would give you a few reasons why we can win. This was in response to the question, "How can a Democrat win against all odds?" Number one, I've done it before.
Cunningham continued to tell the crowd that midterm election results are historically more favorable for Democrats, and that gubernatorial elections are more localized and partisan. He also mentioned his crossover appeal in 2020 when approximately 15,000 voters voted for Cunningham and Donald Trump.
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He explained that this is the kind of support that you need to win in red states.
He presented a list of his priorities that included expanding Medicaid and giving teachers a significant raise. He also spoke out about the need to make voting in South Carolina easier and what he called "common-sense gun laws". Cunningham had pledged to increase background checks for all firearm sales during a press conference held in downtown Charleston weeks earlier. He also said that he would support legislation giving officials more time to check background checks if elected governor.
Mike Chestnut has served on Myrtle Beach's city council for more than two decades. Before his speech, Cunningham met with him. The pair spoke at Big Mikes Soul Food owned by Chestnut about mental health, economic future of the city, and plans for Interstate 73.
Chestnut said that he impressed her, and that Cunningham came to hear what she needed. It was a pleasure to be able to talk with him.
Cunningham was unable to taste any of Big Mike's famous dishes locally, but Chestnut invited Cunningham back to the area for a larger event. I would like to meet other people and hear his thoughts.