Standing inside a longshoremen's union hall in Charleston on Wednesday, Joe Cunningham reminisced on a campaign that saw him go from Democratic long shot to eventual victor in a district where Republicans had held power since the Reagan era.
The journey, he said, was one grounded in close family and friends, and faith that a message of working together on issues like offshore drilling, infrastructure and fixing the Lowcountry's worsening traffic problems, would eventually win him the race.
"The day after I announced this campaign for Congress, my wife (Amanda) announced to me she was pregnant with our son," Cunningham said. "I wanted to run a positive campaign that my son, Boone, could look back on and be proud of, so that's what we tried to do. We focused not on tearing our opponent down but on talking about the issues that affected folks at their kitchen tables."
With the election now behind him, the congressman-elect said he's assembling a transition team and has been in contact with outgoing Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., on how to best ensure a smooth and efficient process.
And although Wednesday brought plenty of occasion for celebrating his win, Cunningham told local media he's committed to the task ahead and to keeping his campaign promises.
"Today, this campaign has come to an end," he said. "Tomorrow, we start the process of leading and governing, and to the people who voted for my opponent, I want you all to know that my door will always be open to you. And you will always have a seat at the table."
Since his win, leaders from around the Lowcountry, South Carolina and on the federal level have called expressing their congratulations, Cunningham said.
He also received a call from his opponent, Republican candidate Katie Arrington, shortly before she addressed her loss this morning.
Speaking about Arrington, Cunningham commended her for running a spirited campaign.
"Katie also lost her mom this year but she still kept going," he said. "This has showed real courage on her behalf and Amanda and I will continue to keep her in our prayers and her family as well."
Cunningham also thanked Sanford, who he called a patriot and fierce defender of the environment, for his years of service to South Carolina's First Congressional District, and thanked his wife, who he called the rock of his campaign.
"More than anything, I want you to know this tonight — I believe that politics should not be about scoring points," he said. "It should be about working together to do what's right and that's exactly what I intend on doing in Washington."