In theory, South Carolina’s 1st congressional district shouldn’t be one of the nation’s most interesting. The Charleston-area district leans heavily in Republicans’ direction — the GOP presidential ticket has won South Carolina’s 1st with relative ease in every recent cycle — and on paper, those looking for competitive contests should look elsewhere.
But in practice, the district generates far more attention for a reason.
Starting nearly a decade ago, South Carolina’s 1st was represented by former Gov. Mark Sanford, with locals willing to overlook the Republican’s “Appalachian Trail“ controversy. In 2018, however, the congressman, deemed insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump, lost in a GOP primary to state Rep. Katie Arrington, who enjoyed the then-president’s backing.
This didn’t work out well for the party: Arrington ended up narrowly losing in the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham, who flipped the reliably GOP district from “red” to “blue.”
Two years later, it flipped back, with Cunningham narrowly losing to Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.
The trouble is, Mace’s idiosyncratic tendencies has led the right to conclude that she isn’t Trumpy enough, either, so Katie Arrington is back: The former state legislator has launched another GOP primary campaign, and again enjoys the former president’s backing.
Interestingly enough, Arrington has a campaign platform of sorts, and she shared it with a conservative outlet as part of Trump’s South Carolina rally on Saturday. Wonkette flagged the amazing quote:
At the rally, Arrington listed her four priorities if she unseats Mace: “First thing we need to do when we get [to D.C.] is fire [Dr. Anthony] Fauci. Second thing: Get rid of the Department of Federal Education [sic], and third thing, start impeaching [President Joe] Biden and open Hunter Biden’s laptop.”
In much of the country, congressional candidates will spend 2022 talking about the economy, energy policy, international affairs, immigration, education, and health care. But in the GOP primary in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, Arrington’s vision is a little ... different.
At this point, we could explore in some depth why it’s not up to Congress to determine Dr. Anthony Fauci’s career path. We could also kick around how misguided the rest of Arrington’s wish list is.
But that would miss the point. The candidate’s post-election agenda, to the extent that anyone should see this as an actual platform for a congressional hopeful, is obviously unserious.
It’s possible, of course, that Arrington is eager to be a serious policymaker, but she peddles nonsense like this as a campaign tactic, assuming that red-meat rhetoric that will advance her ambitions in a GOP primary.
But given the larger context, it’s easier to believe Arrington was sincere — and her goal isn’t to do real work as a federal lawmaker, but rather, she hopes to effectively be a post-policy, far-right pundit with congressional voting privileges.
This is how too much of Republican politics works in 2022.