Birth date: May 30, 1974.Education: Berea College, B.A.; St. Louis University School of Law, J.D. Occupation: Lawyer.Previous offices held: None.Family: Wife, Shana; two children.Why I’m running: “I believe in public service. I have lived it throughout my adult life and when presented with an unexpected opportunity to serve again, I didn’t want to let it pass.”Proudest accomplishment: “My family is very important, as is being able to say I’ve given back to my community and my country.”Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org; pinkstonforcongress.com; 817-4443.
Shawn Pinkston remembers his father coaching Little League as a way of giving back to the community, and Pinkston’s campaign for the 1st Congressional District seat stemmed from the same thinking, a desire to give back.
March 19: Republican and Democratic primariesApril 2: Primary runoff (if needed)May 7: Special election
Of course, a lot has happened between Pinkston’s youth and today, where the 38-year-old Daniel Island lawyer finds himself among 16 Republicans hoping to win U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s old House seat.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred while Pinkston was in his first year of law school. After that, he decided to volunteer, joined the Army and served in Iraq. On the stump, Pinkston has talked about the difficulty of leaving his wife and his young son who still was grappling with health complications from being born two months early.
“One of the reasons I am running is I didn’t abandon my post,” he said, alluding to former Gov. Mark Sanford’s 2009 trip out of state when his staff didn’t know his whereabouts.
“If a soldier abandons his post, he would be charged with dereliction of duty,” Pinkston said. “We have a lot of career politicians in this race who do that — think they can do whatever they want to do.”
While Pinkston said he is a political newcomer, he has legislative experience in both his home state of Kentucky and in Washington.
He has worked as a communications director for the first Republican President of the Kentucky Senate and for the former U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky.
Pinkston’s pledges are less about specific issues than about his values. He said that if elected, he would: put service before himself; hold regular town hall meetings to get feedback; support term limits (no more than eight years for himself); and work to ensure that Congress does not exempt itself from rules and regulations it passes.
He said he also would push to ensure the military remains strong and that Charleston’s port is deepened, an infrastructure project he said “is vital not just to Charleston but to South Carolina in general.”
As far as controlling spending, Pinkston said it’s time to consider means testing for future generations as far as their Social Security — and raising the retirement age. “Doing nothing is not the answer,” he said. He also favors letting states handle Medicaid as a block-grant program.
Roger O’Sullivan, a Mount Pleasant retiree looking over the GOP field, said Pinkston has gained confidence in his public appearances during the few weeks of the campaign.
“He’s a man of very few tap dances, and that’s very appealing,” O’Sullivan said.
Pinkston said he never expected to campaign for Congress, and he said he is pegging his hopes on differentiating himself from the field with his personal values.
“I’m doing this because I truly believe in it. It is part of who I am,” he said. “I couldn’t stand on the sidelines anymore. It’s too important to me to look at myself in the mirror.”
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