King campaigns as fresh face in race


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Post and Courier is profiling all 18 Republican and Democratic 1st Congressional District candidates by the March 19 primaries. This is the final installment.


Jeff King, who works for a North Charleston defense contractor, has never run for office before or been much involved in politics at all. He sees this as one of his strengths.

“Most of my friends and family would not know this election is going on if I weren’t running,” he said.

King also said the past several weeks — since he became one of 16 Republican candidates vying for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s old congressional seat —have been very educational.

“Eight weeks ago, I had no idea what I didn’t know,” he said. “The fact I don’t have every answer I think is an asset. We can go figure it out. ... One of my good personality traits is I don’t claim to know everything.”

King, 33, has worked out at the same North Charleston gym where Scott has frequented. When Scott was appointed to Jim DeMint’s Senate seat, King started talking to his family and acquaintances about entering the race.

He even talked to state Rep. Samuel Rivers, R-Goose Creek, though he didn’t know Rivers served in the Statehouse. Rivers laughed and wished him luck.

Rivers said he also serves as vice chair of the Berkeley County GOP and is remaining neutral in the primary, but he said he knows King and called him “a good guy.”

“I believe there’s lots of potential for him in the future,” he said. “He’s a good sincere guy.”

King has received a warm reception at candidate forums with his candor and sense of humor. One of his punch lines: “My 5-year-old thinks I’m running for president.”

King said his politics mostly line up with Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican whose father, Rep. Ron Paul, generated big crowds during his unsuccessful campaigns for president.

“The size and scope of our federal government is interfering in our everyday lives,” he said.

He also said the Republican party is disjointed and doesn’t have a unified front to rally around, but he also has agreed with most of his primary competitors that the biggest issue is excessive spending in Washington.

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“I think right now, the biggest crisis we have is the debt and deficit,” he said. “We’ve got to cut spending.”

King said he also was frustrated with the political dialogue that led up to the sequester taking effect. “It wasn’t about what it was going to do to America,” he said. “It was about who was going to get blamed. ... We’ve become a gridlock nation that can’t get anything done.”

He said he would like to see the Federal Reserve audited.

King said his faith also led him to enter the race, and that gives him comfort as he considers the long-shot nature of his campaign — one that began with little name recognition and will spend less than $10,000.

“Maybe it’s not my time to win this election, but I might. Maybe it is my time,” he said. “Maybe God is going to move enough mountains for me to get there.”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he added. “If I continue to just walk my path and do what I feel I’m being led to do, then I can’t lose, regardless of the way the election turns out.”

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.