Joe Cunningham Airhorn.jpg (copy)

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham gave a blast from an airhorn to demonstrate how loud offshore seismic testing can be during a House Water, Oceans and Wildlife subcommittee. File

Joe Cunningham isn't in the President Donald Trump impeachment camp.

He's not in anyone's camp in the Democrats' White House race, either.

After six months in office, Charleston's freshman Democrat would rather talk about fixing flooding and veterans issues than step anywhere near the biggest political landmines in Washington, D.C.

Jumping on the impeachment bandwagon isn't a priority.

Sure, Cunningham and most everyone acknowledges that Russia tampered in the 2016 elections, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report outlined. But he said there's not enough evidence he's seen to commit to a course of impeachment over Trump's conduct being pushed by so many House Democrats — 44 at last count, mostly from secure blue districts.

"You're talking about basically nullifying the election of 2016 and what voters voted for," Cunningham told Palmetto Politics after Mueller's press conference Wednesday, where the special counsel didn't exonerate the president's conduct.

"That's not a conclusion you just jump to based upon tweets or popular opinion," Cunningham said. "It's something that you have to take extremely seriously."

Cunningham does acknowledge the Mueller report addresses evidence of obstruction, which is why he supports the slower, more methodical approach in the vein of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for.

"There's alarming allegations in that report, and we don't really know the full breadth of it because we kind of have a half-painted picture," Cunningham said.

He does see a stink, though, in the administration's reaction to efforts to thwart the probes from continuing.

"These are lawfully issued subpoenas," said Cunningham, an attorney. "These aren't Evites for a birthday party."

As far as making a Democratic presidential pick, Cunningham is on the sidelines on that front, as well. He might stay there through South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary in February.

As the congressman representing the state's second-most Democratic district, which stretches from coastal Charleston to Hilton Head Island, most of the field has approached him, courting his support.

"Everybody has reached out except for Bernie (Sanders) and maybe one or two others of the top tier candidates," he said.

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"They've all reached out and just asked about our race and asked about the issues," he said. "I think the undertone is, yeah, they'd like some support."

But it's too early to commit to any one of the hopefuls, he said, for a process that has months to go and multiple states' worth of campaigning left.

He did point to the state Democratic Convention in Columbia on June 22, where 19 of the candidates have committed to speak, as a chance for a "great side-by-side comparison," he said.

Part of Cunningham's calculations has to be that his own 2020 re-election race is looming. Both the state and national GOP are committed to reclaiming his seat following his narrow 4,000-vote win over Republican Katie Arrington last year that flipped the seat that had been in GOP hands for four decades.

Cunningham, meanwhile, said he may not change his mind on Trump unless or until there are actual impeachment articles drafted.

"I am very, very cautious of going down that road without having as complete of a picture as possible," he said.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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