Karen Pence campaigns for Arrington in Charleston

Second Lady Karen Pence addresses a crowd at a campaign event for Katie Arrington on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Andolini's Pizza in West Ashley. Gregory Yee/Staff

Second Lady Karen Pence and Republican candidate Katie Arrington spoke to an enthusiastic audience at Andolini's Pizza in West Ashley on Saturday, urging voters to head to the polls for what they called a critical race for the nation's future.

Citing President Donald Trump's tax cuts, record low unemployment and a conservative rallying cry around immigration, both Pence and Arrington said it is critical the GOP retain South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

 "I wouldn't be here if it weren't critically important that I be here to represent Katie and encourage her so that she wins on Nov. 6," Pence said.

Arrington is running against Democrat Joe Cunningham for the 1st District, which includes much of coastal South Carolina and is currently held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission show the National Republican Congressional Committee recently spent almost $230,000 on ads in the district, indicating the closeness of the competition.

New filings in SC congressional race signal it may not be a GOP guarantee

Pence painted Arrington as someone who will be able to work with Trump and a majority Republican Congress on tax cuts, economic growth, cutting red tape and restoring right to life issues. 

"The Democrats, they need to flip this district to take the majority and they will do everything they can to stop Katie Arrington," she said. "Elections are won by those who show up and by the side with the most enthusiasm. We are counting on you."

Arrington said she is looking forward to Election Day.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if your pocketbook has been feeling better the past two years, if lower taxes, more money in your paycheck, safer America is good, vote Katie Arrington on Tuesday," she said.

Cunningham spent part of Saturday finishing his tour of breweries in the district. His spokesman issued a statement pegging the Republicans having to up their commitment to the tightening duel, including bringing in Mrs. Pence to "pump some much needed energy into her floundering campaign.

"While Katie was hobnobing with DC politicians, Joe was at a local brewery on Johns Island talking to voters about infrastructure and flooding," said spokesman Tyler Jones. "With optics like that, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise why Joe has made this a competitive race."

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Throughout the election, Arrington said she's seen a shift in priorities from voters. While infrastructure used to rank as a top issue, more of the people she's heard from are concerned about immigration.

"We absolutely need to go to Congress," she said. "We need to clean up immigration laws, but we need to build the wall and make this nation safer."

Many in the room took in Arrington's and Pence's message with enthusiasm.

Anastasia Jones, a 54-year-old Wando resident, said she saw Cunningham as disingenuous and that he will not be able to work with the Trump administration.

"It's important for the economy to continue growing," Jones said. "Trump must have conservative partners to continue that growth." 

Schuyler Kropf contributed.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.