Really feeling the Bern: Democrat candidate gets Bernie Sanders tattoo (copy)

Democrat candidate for Congress Dimitri Cherny inked a Bernie Sanders tattoo on his forearm in solidarity with the Sanders movement. File/Provided

The Republican race for U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford's seat in Congress got a juggle Friday when a liberal Democrat jumped in against him.

Dimitri Cherny, a left-leaning backer of Bernie Sanders for president (and who has a Sanders tattoo on his forearm), changed his party allegiance and filed for the 1st Congressional District Republican primary.

"Cherny gets radical," his press announcement said.

"Third-time congressional candidate and Bernie supporter Dimitri Cherny is confirming his radical reputation by entering the open primary for the 1st Congressional District seat of South Carolina on the Republican ballot to face incumbent Mark Sanford," he said.

His campaign phone message says he's running to fix "capitalism and democracy to work for all of us." 

Under state law, election officials have to accept a candidate for whichever primary they wish to file as long as they meet filing requirements.

The filing fee to run for a seat in Congress is $3,480.

Charleston Democrats didn't see it coming and county Republican Party Chairman Larry Kobrovsky also had no idea Cherny was seeking the party nomination.

He admitted the idea is kooky.

"I wonder if the main part of his platform is to transport us to the Planet Zenon," Kobrovsky said Friday after the filing period closed.

Cherny drew attention two years ago when he stated he would like to find a "Planet B," where humans could live in the event of a global catastrophe that ends life on Earth.

Cherny said he got the Sanders tattoo during the 2016 election season to mark the historic stakes at play.

“This is a pivotal point in the history of America and because of that, all the world,” Cherny said at the time he put Sanders' distinctive bald head on his inner forearm.

“This is a time worth commemorating and remembering for the rest of our lives," he said. "This is the time to get inked to show our great-grandchildren where we stood when everything changed.”

One serious argument behind his change of parties, Cherny said, is that the 1st District, which stretches from Charleston to Hilton Head Island, is so skewed toward electing a Republican that a Democrat has no chance of competing.

“That’s the power of gerrymandering," he said. "It doesn’t matter how much you raise and spend on a campaign if voters only vote for the political party, not for the candidate.”

Cherny joins state Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Summerville, in taking on Sanford in the June 12 GOP primary. He challenged Sanford two years ago as a Democratic, Green and Working Families Party candidate, getting almost 37 percent of the vote.

Democrats in the race this year are Joe Cunningham and Toby Smith.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.