EDITOR’S NOTE: The Post and Courier plans to profile all 18 Republican and Democratic 1st Congressional District candidates by the March 19 primaries. This is the 15th installment.
BY ROBERT BEHRE
Keith Blandford, a military veteran and Sullivan’s Island businessman, freely admits he might be one of the oddest candidates of the 16 seeking the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District.
During his appearances at candidate forums, he notes, “I have not asked for their vote — not even just once.”
Ask him what he was doing during a recent forum, and he will give an honest answer: “I was playing Angry Birds.”
Blandford, who ran for the seat only four months ago as a Libertarian, said he is mostly in the race to spread a message about liberty, the danger of the Federal Reserve, and how individuals can keep the country strong as it goes bankrupt.
It’s a message that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has spread during his past two campaigns as a Republican presidential candidate.
But while Paul has also talked about his opposition to the United States’ foreign policy and its war on drugs, Blandford has focused almost solely on Paul’s fiscal message.
“For my generation, we better start talking about what’s coming next — not what we’re going to go back to. This federal government is bankrupt. It will default on its debt. The dollar will devalue, period,” he said.
Blandford’s businesses include a restaurant, construction management, stone masonry and general contractor work with hotels.
As a hedge against the dollar, he noted he owns property in Russia and South Africa and has invested in gold.
But Blandford’s message is not all gloom and doom.
“We know when we experience the most growth is when we go through uncomfortable times. That’s the truth,” he said. “We’re going to get through it, and on the other side, we will have learned a heck of a lot.”
He also has sounded a limited government theme. One of his campaign’s first announcements was that he had met with Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon to express his support for Cannon’s controversial stance on not enforcing what he considered unconstitutional gun laws.
And Blandford said he is gravely concerned about the National Defense Authorization Act and the Patriot Act. He noted Tim Scott voted for the former, and Blandford is probably the only candidate in the field to criticize him for one of his votes.
“Once they put that (terrorist) label on you, they can come into your home and arrest you without due cause,” he said. “It eliminates the Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. It is atrocious.”
Blandford also ran in the crowded 2010 1st District general election, getting 1 percent, or 2,750 votes, as a Libertarian. He more than doubled that last November, when he ran again as a Libertarian and got 6,334 votes, more than 2 percent.
Before Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Scott to fill retiring U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat in December, Blandford had been gearing up for a 2014 GOP primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Regardless of what happens in the current congressional race, Blandford’s 2014 Senate bid isn’t going to happen.
“This is it. I am not doing it again,” he said. “I’m completely done.”