Hilton Head lawmaker running for Congress

gsmith@islandpacket.comJanuary 9, 2013 

Andy Patrick

Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, is joining the increasingly crowded race for the 1st District Congressional seat.

"I have really enjoyed serving the citizens of Hilton Head Island over the last two years and learned a lot about things that I probably wouldn't have otherwise," Patrick said Wednesday. "I enjoy developing policy and working towards making things better for people. I've demonstrated some success in that area over the last few years."

Patrick, elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected without opposition in November, has already hired a national consulting firm to run his campaign. RightOn Strategies recently was launched by Rick Santorum's presidential campaign manager and New Hampshire political veteran, Mike Biundo.

Patrick's security consulting firm, Advance Point Global, provided security for Santorum. The security job meant Patrick was sometimes absent from the Statehouse, missing votes and raising the ire of some constituents.

Absenteeism won't be a problem in coming months, said Patrick, who plans to balance his duties as a state representative and his run for Congress.

"I'm going to be in Columbia every day that we're in session," Patrick said. "This is a short sprint, and I'll be able to balance the two."

The primary is March 19, and the general election is May 7.

As a fairly new lawmaker, Patrick has yet to get any major legislation passed. But he earned a spot this summer on the House Ethics Study Committee, which seeks to update the state's ethics laws, and a spot on a special House committee probing the security breach at the Department of Revenue. He also was twice selected as a whip, helping House GOP leaders line up votes for legislation.

As a member of the House Education Committee -- and a newly-appointed chairman of one of its subcommittees -- Patrick touts his involvement in passage of a bill last year that lets homeschool students and charter school students participate in sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities at their neighborhood public school.

A former New York state trooper and Secret Service special agent, Patrick said his congressional platform will include pushing for free-market health care solutions to replace President Barack Obama's federal health care reform law, cutting federal spending and pushing for a strong military.

So far, other announced Republican candidates are Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner; Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley; and former state Sen. John Kuhn, R-Charleston. Those still mulling a run include former Gov. Mark Sanford; Sen. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston; Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston; and Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley.

Two Democrats capable of raising the $600,000 or more needed for a campaign are seriously considering a run, said Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party. However, Blaine Lotz of Hilton Head Island is not among them. The chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party announced earlier this week he won't seek the office.

"I'm involved in so many things here on the island," Lotz said. "I just thought frankly they were more important."

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