Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Berkeley County took center stage in Lowcountry politics Saturday morning, as 13 of the 16 announced Republican candidates for the recently vacated First District U.S. Congressional seat made a stop in Goose Creek.
The setting was the monthly Republican Breakfast at American Legion Post 166, and an overflow crowd attended.
If there was a favorite it may have been State Sen. Larry Grooms. The popular Berkeley County legislator was one of the first candidates to throw his hat in the ring for the seat last held by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
“I feel really good,” Grooms said after addressing the friendly gathering. “The campaign is now hitting on all cylinders.”
The Grooms campaign made news at the event: Berkeley County GOP Chairman Tim Callanan announced that he is resigning his post with the party to become Grooms’ general campaign manager. Callanan, who will be replaced by Samuel Rivers Jr. as party chairman, will remain on Berkeley County Council.
Callanan said he wrestled with whether to leave the chairmanship to work for Grooms, but in the end Grooms’ candidacy was too exciting to turn down.
“How often in your life will you actually be able to do something you love, and get paid for it?” Callanan said.
Callanan said Grooms is the best candidate for the job: “Even if I had the pick of all 16, there is no question it would be Larry.”
Grooms faces stiff competition for the seat – and lots of it. The candidates took turns taking shots at what they called out of control spending by the federal government.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford received a warm welcome Saturday morning. Sanford held the District 1 seat before he became governor.
“Y’all have been remarkably kind to me,” Sanford said. “This is an unexpected turn for me … I thought politics was over.”
Sanford said he has “learned a lot about grace, and a lot about forgiveness” over the past two years.
Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, told the audience that he and his famous father “don’t agree on politics, obviously.”
Turner jokingly thanked the audience for listening to him “at the Larry Grooms breakfast.”
Candidate Shawn Pinkston of Daniel Island said that his campaign is going well, and that the winner of the race will be the person who best connects with voters. “This is going to be won by going door-to-door,” he said.
Joining Grooms, Sanford, Turner and Pinkston on the stump were fellow Republicans Keith Blanford, Ric Bryant, Jonathan Hoffman, Jeff King, John Kuhn, Chip Limehouse, Elizabeth Moffly, Ray Nash and Andy Patrick.
Three Democrats are also battling for their party’s nomination: Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, Ben Frasier and Martin Skelly.