Chris Cox, the South Carolina man who mowed the lawn near the Lincoln Memorial during the 2013 government shutdown and founded Bikers for Trump, will leave his grassroots work behind to enter the 2020 race for Charleston's seat in Congress.

Cox, who lives in Mount Pleasant, announced his plans to run for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District in a Facebook post Sunday night. It is his first run for political office.

His Republican bid will include two campaign kick-off rallies in the district in September.

In an interview Monday with The Post and Courier, Cox said he felt partially responsible for the Republican loss last year in the 1st District that had been in GOP hands for nearly four decades.

In his role with Bikers for Trump, Cox said he helped GOP campaigns around the country but spent less time locally.

"I felt a little responsible as a result of spending so much time elsewhere," he said. "And so, now, I'm putting myself in the hot seat, instead of working for someone else in the hot seat. I’m looking forward to this."

Cox said his kickoff events will include one in Mount Pleasant and the other in either Hilton Head Island or Beaufort.

In his Facebook post, Cox, 50, wrote that he sees winning back the congressional seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham as part of his mission to support President Donald Trump.

"Sometimes, we find ourselves at a crossroads, and other times we put ourselves at a crossroads," Cox said in the 167-word post.

National Republicans are eager to win back control of the House next year and see South Carolina’s 1st  District as a key part of that strategy. The National Republican Congressional Committee says it's one of 55 targeted House districts they want to flip in 2020. 

In the social media post, which had been shared nearly 2,000 times by Monday morning, Cox confirmed he had "passed the torch of Bikers for Trump" to Dale Hendron. A review of Hendron's LinkedIn page confirmed the leadership switch, showing he went from acting as the group's national moderator and recruiter, to its new executive director.

In his statement, Cox said he "couldn't be more proud" of the work he had done with Bikers for Trump. 

The group formed in 2015, first as a supportive group for Trump, the then-unconventional Republican presidential candidate. It soon grew in size and shifted its focus as Bikers for Trump members traveled the country to different Trump rallies and events where they acted as an extra layer of security and promotion.

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Cox has been a frequent guest at the White House during the Trump administration and a visible ally.

During the July Fourth celebration in Washington last week, Cox had front-row seats for the president's speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

In December, when Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn faced sentencing for lying to federal investigators about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period, Cox was outside the courthouse with his dog "Trigger" to protect Flynn. The sentencing was later delayed.

Cox does have some more traditional political experience outside of his grassroots organizing. He worked for Vice President Dan Quayle in 1991 and later worked for the campaign of former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

With the addition of Cox, South Carolina's most high-profile congressional race has now drawn five GOP challengers, three of whom are current elected officials.

The other Republican candidates who have announced bids to try to unseat Cunningham are: Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert; Hilton Head Island teacher Logan Cunningham (no relation to the Democratic incumbent); Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing; and, most recently, state Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Daniel Island.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.