As Teddy Turner runs his first campaign, as one of 16 Republicans seeking the 1st Congressional District seat, he's more likely to talk about his experience in Moscow than in Washington.
That's because Turner — son of the media icon and CNN founder Ted Turner — is emphasizing his mixed life experiences rather than his political experience. Which is none.
But Turner's upbringing was not the soft, cushy one some might expect growing up in the household of a successful businessman.
“I've done every imaginable job possible, from really good to really bad,” he said. “Life experience is really the key in anything.”
His jobs also have included work at a Charleston icehouse, a stint in Turner Corp.'s corporate office, owning a yacht-sales business and, most recently, teaching at a private school on Johns Island.
The Post and Courier plans to profile all 18 Republican and Democratic 1st Congressional District candidates by the March 19 primaries. This is the fourth installment.
He noted that one of his first jobs was clearing brush and trash from the base of billboards.“You do that for a summer in Atlanta, you know what hard work is.”
He also worked as a CNN cameraman in Moscow before suffering broken facial bones in a 1987 auto accident.
He has talked about his experience with crude Soviet medicine as part of a warning about socialized medicine and the Affordable Care Act.
“They had no way of fixing it,” he said of his injury. “They put me in wrestling head gear and said, 'Here, this will hold you together.' ”
Like many of his primary challengers, Turner cited the federal deficit and spending “of nightmare proportions” as the campaign's main issue.
He said, if elected, his approach to cutting spending would be to require cuts across the board while giving the heads of federal agencies some leeway to implement them.
Turner said his experience abroad sets him apart from the field, and he supports America's strong foreign policy role, while acknowledging the nation has made missteps there.
“It's easy to say, 'Everybody hates the policeman.' But who do you call first?” he said. “What do we do? Not answer the phone?”
If his celebrity father gives him some advantage in terms of name recognition, Turner said it cuts both ways.
“Unfortunately, all my life, when somebody says, 'You're Ted Turner's son,' they have a pre-formed opinion,” he said. “It's hard to get a fair shot. They suppose they know me. If I were riding Ted Turner's coattails, would I be living in South Carolina and running as a Republican? ... Dad's fairly liberal.”
Eddie Taylor, a Charleston Republican, said he is backing one of Turner's opponents, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, but Taylor said Turner would be his second choice.
“Even though he's got no experience, his heart is in it.
He's in the fight now,” Taylor said. “I think he'd be such a dedicated, honest person, he'd do us well.”