Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head, is looking to Beaufort County voters to help him win the 1st District Congressional seat, the race for which starts with a crowded GOP primary.
Patrick met with supporters Monday at the Fripp House in Bluffton to formally announce his run to fill the vacancy created when Tim Scott was appointed to replace U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who retired with four years remaining in his term to run the Heritage Foundation.
"The way I view things, this country is crumbling," Patrick said. "The foundations of America and the principles instilled by our founding fathers are crumbling. Not from some great foreign power, but crumbling from within. Crumbling from the weight of debt, crumbling from a deteriorating culture, crumbling from a Congress that can't even pass a budget."
Patrick, a security consultant and former Secret Service agent, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected without opposition in November. He serves on the House Ethics Study Committee, a special House committee probing the security breach at the Department of Revenue, and the House Education Committee.
Scott, a tea party favorite, comfortably defeated Democrat Bobbie Rose in November's general election -- the first since redistricting took most of Beaufort County out of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's 5th Congressional District and put it into a district that includes the Charleston area.
Two Democrats and nine Republicans have filed or announced their intention to seek their party's nomination. The GOP field includes former Gov. Mark Sanford, whose family has owned land in Beaufort County for decades; and state Rep. Chip Limehouse and state Sen. Larry Grooms, both of the Charleston area.
Most of the other aspirants for the 1st District seat are from the Charleston area, so Patrick said his plan is to secure Beaufort County voters and seek to hold his own elsewhere in the district. He leaned heavily on the "Lowcountry values" that led him and his wife to raise their children here.
"We need to send a message to Washington, D.C., that we do not value Washington, D.C., values," he said. "We don't identify with those values. We believe in Lowcountry values. Lowcountry values of strong community, strong commitment to service and passing on a better future to tomorrow's generation."
The primaries are March 19; runoffs, if needed, will be April 2, and the general election is May 7.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
Hilton Head lawmaker running for Congress, Jan. 9, 2013
Patrick, Lotz mulling run for Scott's U.S. House seat, Dec. 17, 2012