Joe Cunningham (American politician)

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Joe Cunningham
Member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st district
Assuming office
January 3, 2019
SucceedingMark Sanford
Personal details
Born (1982-05-26) May 26, 1982 (age 36)
Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Amanda Cunningham (m. 2014)
EducationCollege of Charleston
Florida Atlantic University (BS)
Northern Kentucky University (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website

Joseph Cunningham (born May 26, 1982) is an American attorney and politician from the state of South Carolina. He is the member-elect for the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina's 1st congressional district. A member of the Democratic Party, Cunningham defeated Republican Katie Arrington in the 2018 general election.

Early life and education[edit]

Cunningham is from Kuttawa, Kentucky. He graduated from Lyon County High School. Cunningham spent his first two years of undergraduate studies at College of Charleston. He transferred to Florida Atlantic University, and became an ocean engineer with a company in Naples, Florida.

Five years later, he was laid off in the 2008 recession. He enrolled in law school at Northern Kentucky University's Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 2011.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

In July 2017, Cunningham announced his candidacy to challenge Mark Sanford for the United States House of Representatives in South Carolina's 1st congressional district.[2][3] Cunningham won the nomination, defeating nonprofit consultant Toby Smith, receiving 71.5% of the vote.[4][5]

Cunningham went on to face Katie Arrington, who defeated Sanford in the Republican primary. Cunningham defeated Arrington in a major upset, marking the first time since 1986 that South Carolina Democrats have flipped a U.S. House seat.[6] Cunningham received 50.7% of the vote[7][8]

While Arrington carried four of the district's five counties, Cunningham prevailed by winning Charleston County by almost 17,000 votes–more than four times the overall margin of 4,000 votes.[9] When Cunningham takes office in January 2019, he will be the first Democrat to represent this Charleston-based district since 1981.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Cunningham lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina with his wife Amanda. Cunningham recently had a son during his campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 2018. Cunningham is an Eagle Scout. His father, Bill Cunningham, is a Kentucky Supreme Court Justice and historical author.[1]


  1. ^ a b Nettles, Brad (August 26, 2018). "Can Joe Cunningham go to Congress? 'I've learned not to underestimate him' | Palmetto Politics". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  2. ^ Dumain, Emma (June 21, 2017). "First Democratic challenger declares bid to unseat South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford | Palmetto Politics". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Spence, Sam (June 21, 2017). "First-time candidate announces Democratic challenge to Mark Sanford by standing against Nancy Pelosi | The Battery". Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  4. ^ "South Carolina Primary Election Results: Sanford Defeated in Republican House Primary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  5. ^ "Election Night Reporting". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  6. ^ Caitlin Byrd; Chloe Johnson. "Joe Cunningham takes SC 1st Congressional District race over Republican Kate Arrington". Post and Courier. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  7. ^ "South Carolina Election Results 2018: Live Midterm Map by County & Analysis". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  8. ^ "South Carolina Election Results: First House District". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  9. ^ South Carolina 2018 House results from CNN
  10. ^ Mark Sanford (2018-11-13). "Opinion: A Wake-Up Call for the G.O.P."

External links[edit]