First-term Republican Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing jumped in the 2020 race for Charleston's seat in Congress on Monday, characterizing incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham as too liberal and immature for the job.

"Rather than attention-seeking stunts, we need a more thoughtful, and dare I say, mature approach in Congress," said Landing, 56, of Cunningham, who is 37.

Landing, who has more than 30 years of experience in financial planning, is currently senior vice president of investments for Raymond James and Associates.

She said Congress needs someone like her who can tackle math problems, such as balancing the budget and getting federal spending under control, while also deploying strong communication skills.

Landing is also a member of American Mensa, an internationally recognized society for individuals with a high IQ.

"Our current congressman may be a nice guy, but the Lowcountry needs a strong leader in Congress that truly represents that majority of voters in SC-1," she said.

"Our citizens deserve a member of Congress with real experience in both the private and public sector," Landing said.

Landing said she is a supporter of the Second Amendment and opposes abortion. She supports President Donald Trump's re-election and, in a nod to Trump's campaign slogan, promised she is committed to "keeping America great."

Landing was first elected to Town Council in November 2017 and will keep her seat while running for Congress.

In May, she unsuccessfully tried to block a Town Council vote on a resolution calling for the state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. The vote went forward but failed, with Landing voting against it.

When asked about her opposition Monday, Landing said she "supports women 150 percent" but did not think the resolution was appropriate for a council to take up.

Asked if she would support ratifying the ERA if elected to Congress, Landing said no without offering an additional explanation.

With Landing's announcement, three Republicans have now formally lined up to challenge Cunningham for the 1st Congressional District seat he won in 2018.

The two other declared challengers — Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert and Hilton Head Island teacher Logan Cunningham, who is not related to the congressman — both live in Bluffton.

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The list of potential Republican candidates could grow. Filing for the seat won't officially open until March.

Cunningham's campaign issued a statement welcoming Landing to the race. "But the last thing Washington needs is another politician who is more interested in petty partisan attacks than they are delivering results," said Tyler Jones, spokesman for the Cunningham campaign.

Landing has enlisted Charleston political consultant Michael Mulé to help run her campaign. Mulé worked on former state Rep. Katie Arrington's failed 2018 congressional campaign as she defeated then-U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary only to lose to Cunningham in the general election by 3,982 votes.

Landing said Cunningham's historic win happened because of one issue: His opposition to offshore drilling.

"I am absolutely and unequivocally against offshore drilling and seismic testing for the South Carolina coastline," Landing said Monday in her announcement, eliciting applause from the nearly 50 people who attended.

All three declared GOP challengers told The Post and Courier they oppose the practice of offshore drilling and seismic testing off South Carolina's coast.

State GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said winning the seat back is the party's top priority. The district has been identified by the National Republican Congressional Committee as one of its 55 targeted House seats they want to flip in 2020. 

The district covers South Carolina's coastline from Charleston south, with boundaries wrapping around parts of Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton and Beaufort counties linking a mix of retirees, suburbanites and military veterans.

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.

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