Kate Arrington (copy)

Kate Arrington, the Republican candidate who lost her bid to represent South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, announced Monday that she has obtained a new job in Washington. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Two months after her political dream of representing South Carolina in Congress ended in an electoral defeat that stunned the nation, Republican Katie Arrington has landed a job in Washington, D.C.

The former state lawmaker who lost her congressional bid to Democrat Joe Cunningham in the midterm elections, shared the news on her personal Facebook page Monday. She began by saying she felt "so blessed to be able to serve."

"This morning I start one of the most exciting chapters of my life!!" Arrington wrote in announcing her new role as a highly qualified expert appointment, or HQE, for the Department of Defense. 

The Department of Defense defines highly qualified experts as "individuals who possess uncommon, special knowledge, skills, and experience in an occupational field, and judgment that is accorded authority and status by peers or the public."

The appointment came from Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment — the Pentagon's top weapons buyer.

Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews confirmed Arrington's hire Wednesday afternoon, noting she had been formally welcomed by the department earlier that morning. 

Repeated requests for a description of Arrington's role at the Pentagon were not immediately returned, but Andrews said her appointment is significant.

"In her capacity as special assistant for Cybersecurity, she'll have access to senior leaders on a top department priority. Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord has full faith and confidence in her experience, and is excited to have her on the team," Andrews said.

Arrington will report directly to Kevin Fahey, the assistant undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. In Pentagon hierarchy, Fahey is three levels below the acting secretary of defense and was appointed to the position by President Donald Trump.

Fahey was also a keynote speaker at the Charleston Defense Contractors Association Defense Summit in December, which Arrington also attended. 

"I am extremely honored to receive this appointment and continue her work to protect our country, our war fighters, and our tax dollars!" Arrington said in her social media post.

Among those who liked Arrington's announcement on Facebook was U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens.

News of Arrington's job change did not come as a total surprise, though.

The week after she lost her congressional race to Democrat Joe Cunningham, Arrington traveled to Washington, telling The Post and Courier ahead of her trip that she planned to meet with "groups of people" while declining to give further details.

"I've got stuff to take care of. I ain't leaving. I'm staying around, but I’ve got stuff to take care of," she told area Charleston Republicans on the eve of that November trip. 

A recent post from Arrington's Facebook account also indicates she traveled to Washington in late December.

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Michael Mulé, a spokesman for Arrington, said she will continue to reside in her Summerville home and will commute back and forth for work.

Should Arrington decide to mount another run for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, technically, it would not matter if she resided in the district or not. According to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. House candidates need only be at least 25 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years to run for office. There is no requirement that a candidate must live in the congressional district they are vying to represent.

They must, however, inhabit the state they intend to represent in Congress.

During her 2018 congressional campaign, Arrington frequently cited her cyber security and defense industry background as a way of casting herself as a candidate who already understood how the federal government works.

On Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress, Arrington took aim at her former congressional opponent in a tweet by calling him #JoeCunningSham, indicating that she may not be ready to leave the campaign trail just yet.

Arrington has previously worked as a director of technology at a firm called Centuria, an account manager at Benefitfocus and, most recently, was the vice president of sales at Dispersive Technologies, a cyber security solutions provider.

She also served on both the executive board of the state's chapter of Women in Defense, a networking group for women who work in national defense and security, as well as the Charleston Defense Contractors Association, a business association focused on raising the profile of the region’s defense industry.

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.