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Community : Top Stories Last Updated: Jan 30, 2013 - 9:08:25 AM

And they're off! 1st Congressional District race begins
Jan 30, 2013 - 9:04:22 AM

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Political signs from last fall’s elections have all been packed away, along with speech scripts and seemingly endless campaign advertisements, but the stumping is about to begin anew…and Daniel Island is once again poised to be part of the show.   
The island, and most of the Clements Ferry Road corridor, is included in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, where an open seat recently left by Tim Scott is now up for grabs. A newcomer to the Washington scene, Scott was elected to the U.S. House post in 2010, but resigned last December after being appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to take fellow Republican Jim DeMint’s vacated seat in the U.S. Senate.  A total of 19 candidates have officially filed to run for the opportunity to represent the 1st District, which includes portions of Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Beaufort, and Colleton Counties. Daniel Island was moved from the 6th Congressional District to the 1st in 2011, as part of a statewide redistricting plan.     
A former sheriff, the son of media tycoon, an environmental scientist, the sister of a popular television comedian, a former governor of South Carolina, a Homeland Security expert and several current state legislators are among the pack of hopefuls in the race. Also throwing his hat into the ring is Daniel Island resident Shawn Pinkston. According to Pinkston’s campaign website, he is a decorated veteran of the Iraqi War, a former military prosecutor, and an attorney who defends “the front line of our health care industry.”  
“I’ve always believed in public service,” said Pinkston, who deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer. “It’s very important to me to give back to the community as much as I can…I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines and letting that opportunity pass…If I can help create a better community or contribute to a better community, then I believe I have an obligation to do that.”
In addition to Pinkston, the candidates vying for Scott’s open seat are former state senator John Kuhn, Sen. Larry Grooms, Elizabeth Moffly, Ray Nash, Rep. Andy Patrick, Curtis Bostic, Teddy Turner, Keith Blandford, Jeff King, Rep. Peter McCoy, Mark Sanford, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, Martin Skelly, Jonathan Hoffman, Tim Larkin, Ric Bryant, Ben Frasier and Rep. Chip Limehouse (for additional information on candidates see sidebar on page 8). Daniel Island resident Jim Merrill, who has served since 2000 in the South Carolina State House representing District 99, elected not to run. The former House Majority Leader,  now in his seventh term in office, did not rule out running for a similar opportunity to serve at the state or federal level in the future.   
“I am grateful for being in the discussion with so many capable people over who should fill this congressional seat,” said Merrill. “However, I have worked in one capacity or another for four different congressmen and I understand the significant impact on one’s time and quality of life that are required to successfully perform this job...At this point in my personal and professional life it is best to concentrate on issues that center around the Lowcountry and South Carolina…not Washington, D.C.”
In recent years, Daniel Island has become a popular campaign stop for national candidates. In the Presidential Primaries of 2012, several noteworthy contenders paid a visit to the community, including Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman. One reason for Daniel Island’s popularity with candidates could be its consistently high voter turnout. In the 2012 election last November, close to 70 percent of registered voters in the island’s number two precinct cast their ballots at the polls. It is also a community that is made up largely of Republican voters, making it an attractive campaign destination for GOP candidates.
The first known campaign event on Daniel Island related to the 1st Congressional race is a gathering with candidate Curtis Bostic, an attorney and former Charleston County School Board chairman, at the home of Colby and Heather Hollifield on February 12. Other events are sure to follow as candidates seek to connect with their potential Daniel Island constituents.  
Candidates seeking the 1st Congressional District seat will square off in a Primary on March 19, followed by a Primary Runoff (if necessary) on April 2. The Special Election for Scott’s former post will officially take place on May 7. The last day to register to vote in the Primary is February 16 and the last day to register to vote in the Special Election is April 6. A Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Daniel Island Business Association, is slated for February 20th at 6:30 pm at the Daniel Island Club. Look for more information on this event, as well as detailed profiles on the candidates, in future issues of The Daniel Island News.
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