Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham has invited a Republican friend to be his guest at Tuesday's State of the Union address: Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin.
The choice of the mayor, who crossed the political aisle to back Cunningham in November, gives the 1st Congressional District's new representative an opportunity to re-emphasize two of his campaign priorities: bipartisanship and protecting the coastal environment.
"I am proud to have the support of Mayor Goodwin and coastal leaders throughout the Lowcountry who understand the importance of protecting our vibrant natural resources, economy and way of life from the devastating effects of oil and gas exploration," said Cunningham, D-Charleston.
In a surprising twist during last year's campaign, Goodwin endorsed Cunningham over Republican Katie Arrington, along with another Republican mayor, Jimmy Carroll of Isle of Palms. Both mayors cited Cunningham's unwavering opposition to offshore drilling as the primary reason for their decision.
Goodwin said he's "honored" to join Cunningham at the annual address and looks forward to working with him.
"Congressman Cunningham has already proven that he is willing to work across the aisle to get things done for the Lowcountry and has been a strong opponent of offshore drilling," Goodwin said.
Municipal races in South Carolina are generally nonpartisan, but Goodwin and Carroll both identify as Republicans and said they had previously voted for Cunningham's GOP predecessor, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford.
Goodwin and Carroll later appeared in a TV ad for Cunningham's campaign, along with a couple other local Republicans who had chosen to back the Democrat in that race.
Cunningham was recently appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, where he has said he intends to continue to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing. He introduced a bill to that effect during his first full week in office and has also supported a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the issue.
South Carolina's other new congressman, U.S. Rep. William Timmons, R-Greenville, told The Post and Courier he has invited Chalmers Carr as his State of the Union guest. Carr is the owner and CEO of Titan Farms, the largest peach grower on the East Coast.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, has invited Jane Horton, a veteran and Gold Star wife, as his guest. Horton "has dedicated her life to advocating for veterans, military families, and a strong national defense," said Duncan spokeswoman Addie Patterson.