Isle of Palms Winter-Spring 2018-19

12 | | Reaching Across The Aisle I n a congressional district drawn specifically to virtually assure Republican dominance, Joe Cunningham concocted the perfect recipe for victory, combining his youth, his message of Lowcountry over party affiliation, his opposition to drilling for oil off the Carolina coast and his disdain for special-interest groups By Brian Sherman to become the first Democrat to represent South Carolina’s 1st District since Mendel Davis left office in January 1981. It certainly didn’t hurt that when voters went to the polls Nov. 6 to choose between Cunningham and former State Rep. Katie Arrington, they were well aware that many local elected officials who usually vote Republican were in the Democrat’s corner. His supporters included Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll; Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil and Council Member Rita Langley; Mount Pleasant Councilman Jim Owens; and Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin. “Those endorsements were highly important,” said Cunningham, a 36-year-old attorney who also has a degree in ocean engineering. “They sent a signal that we can work with others and reach across the aisle. We had cultivated our message around the notion that we can all work together to focus on issues that matter the most in the Lowcountry.” He added that he would continue to work with local officials on legislation that affects coastal South Carolina because “they have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and that type of information is invaluable.” He also pointed out that he wouldn’t hold a grudge against those who didn’t support him. “Whether a mayor supported me or not, they all will have a seat at the table,” he said, a not-so-veiled reference to a phone call between Arrington and Carroll on Oct. 11, after the Isle of Palms mayor endorsed Cunningham. Though Carroll said he never thought to record a phone call in his life, he recorded his conversation with Arrington because “I figured she would be very angry.” During the nine-minute, 34-second call, Arrington told Carroll: “This is the way it works in Washington. Republican Officials Backed New Democratic Congressman Photo courtesy of the Joe Cunningham campaign. Joe Cunningham pulled offf a surprise victory in the race to represent the 1st District of South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives.