Hilton Head Island financial adviser Jeff Bradley says he will run for the state House of Representatives seat currently held by Rep. Andy Patrick.
Bradley, a Republican, made the announcement Thursday during a meeting of the Greater Island Council of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. The 56-year-old becomes the first publicly declared candidate for Patrick's District 123 seat.
Patrick, R-Hilton Head, abandoned his candidacy for state education superintendent and announced last week he would not seek re-election to the House in the Nov. 4 general election, citing family concerns.
Patrick's decision came two days after The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette published a story that looked into his financial troubles, as described in court documents detailing he and his wife's divorce proceedings.
Bradley is not yet officially a candidate -- the filing period for House seats opens at noon March 16 and closes at noon March 30, according to state election officials.
A resident of Hilton Head Island for 35 years, Bradley works for Edward Jones Investments.
In a letter announcing his intention, Bradley said he is running to give back to the community that "has been so good" to his family.
"I have a lifetime's experience in the business world, in the investment world, analyzing situations and people's finances," Bradley said. "And I have a track record of a long career of making fair to good decisions for folks, and I would like to bring that with me to the Statehouse."
Bradley and his wife of 34 years, Anne, have raised three children on Hilton Head -- Cooper, 29; Logan, 25; and Griffin, 19.
Bradley has never held or run for public office. He sits on the board of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a Hilton Head-based nonprofit group that has awarded more than $50 million in grants and scholarships from more than 260 philanthropic funds under its umbrella.
He also is on the board of the Technical College of the Lowcountry Foundation and helped establish the Hilton Head Island GED Camp at First Presbyterian Church. The free day camp, which has since grown to include sites in Beaufort and Bluffton and on Lady's Island, provides three weeks of preparation for the state's General Educational Development test. Those who pass the test earn the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Bradley said he also is working with the S.C. Commission of Higher Education to promote the value of post-secondary education.
"Education is essential, and education beyond high school is imperative toward achieving success in today's world," he said.
Bradley said he is still forming his platform.
"I'm feeling my way through this political process," he said. "I'm stepping in the ring and hope to be more effective at it as I go along."
Beaufort County councilman and Hilton Head resident Stu Rodman said he was "pleasantly surprised" to learn of Bradley's candidacy.
"There's absolutely no doubt he will be a very, very strong candidate and do a super job in Columbia," Rodman said after Thursday's Greater Island Council meeting. "... He's a good thinker and a leader and has a successful record of just doing things without seeking credit for himself."
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said he's received about six calls from residents expressing interest in running for the seat, and he has encouraged all to do so.
"I expect to get more such calls in the coming days and will handle them the same way," Davis said. "... I would love to see a repeat of what happened in the (Hilton Head) mayor's race in 2010, when seven island residents offered themselves for office and then engaged in a lively, informative and civil debate. That process yielded a great mayor in Drew Laughlin, and I believe it would yield an equally good result for House District 123."
As for Bradley, Davis said, "He seems to be an intelligent and public-minded guy who gives a lot of himself to the community, and those are certainly the sort of qualities you look for in a public servant."
State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, said he has "a good gut feeling" about Bradley and sees his lack of political experience as a plus.
"We have too many career politicians in politics today," Herbkersman said. "What we need is an average person not jaded to the political process and who understands their community. From talking with (Bradley), he understands his community and the issues that affect our area, as a businessman and family man. I'm glad to see someone of quality stepping up."
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.