State Rep. Andy Patrick, the only candidate in the 1st Congressional District race who lives in Beaufort County, was endorsed Tuesday by Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin and Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.
"I am honored to receive the endorsement of these two devoted mayors," Patrick said in a statement. "Mayor Sulka and Mayor Laughlin are committed to Beaufort County and the improvement of our community. They have done terrific work at the local level, showing that conservative principles are the pathway to success."
Laughlin said he has known Patrick for years and lives in the same Hilton Head neighborhood.
"He's accessible and responsive to the needs of the town," Laughlin said, adding that Patrick knows the values of smaller government and fiscal responsibility that he will take to Washington.
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And it doesn't hurt that he's a local guy.
"Everything else being equal, having someone from your community is a plus," he said.
Patrick, in his second two-year term in the S.C. House of Representatives, is still a relatively new lawmaker and has yet to pass any major legislation. And he's one of 19 candidates running for the seat, making it difficult for him -- or any other candidate -- to attract adequate attention from voters to win.
He is among 16 other Republicans seeking to replace Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
Laughlin said he isn't worried about Patrick's lack of experience.
"We used to say that about someone else who's in Columbia now," he said, referring to Gov. Nikki Haley, who served only two terms in the House before winning the 2010 gubernatorial race against well-known and well-funded GOP rivals.
The likely winner this time will have lots of money to buy TV time, mailers and other media to break away from the pack and get noticed, political observers say. One candidate, Teddy Turner, a Charleston teacher and son of media mogul Ted Turner, is already running TV ads in Charleston.
A spokesman for Patrick's campaign would only say Tuesday that fundraising is going "incredibly well." He would not give the amount Patrick has raised so far nor indicate whether Patrick has donated to his campaign.
Attempts Tuesday to reach Sulka were unsuccessful.
In a statement from Patrick's campaign, Sulka said, " I have known Andy for years and there are few people more committed to public service and the betterment of Beaufort County than him. He puts his strong family values into practice every day and has a commitment to the next generation, to make their lives better. Andy has been a leader for conservative principles in Columbia and will no doubt be a strong advocate for Lowcountry values in Washington, D.C."
Patrick, a former Secret Service agent, owns Advance Point Global, a security company.
Follow reporter Gina Smith at www.twitter.com/GinaNSmith.