October 19th, 2009
06:05 PM ET
13 years ago

2010 Challengers: DeMint opponent has national support

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.demint.gi.jpg caption="DeMint is running for a second term in 2010."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's sharp attacks on President Obama - including his memorable line that conservatives can "break" the president by blocking health care reform - have put him in the Democratic crosshairs.

Now national Democrats think they've found the candidate with the best shot at unseating the first term Republican: Chad McGowan, a 38-year-old trial lawyer from conservative York County who officially announced his candidacy on Monday.

Said one Democratic leadership aide in Washington: "Is DeMint more vulnerable than [Richard] Burr or David [Vitter]? Probably not. But McGowan is a self-funder and from the right part of the state. He could give a Republican a run for his money."

McGowan said in an interview with CNN that South Carolina "can do better" than DeMint, but he refrained from any outright attacks against the Republican on the day he jumped in the race. "I don't want to get into bashing any sitting senators at this point," he said. "These races are marathons. I'll just try to keep it positive for now."

DeMint has nearly $3 million in the bank for his campaign, not to mention a loyal network of conservative activists in South Carolina and nationwide willing to support him. McGowan wouldn't say if he plans to contribute his own money to pay for the campaign, but promised to raise "whatever it takes" to win. The last competitive statewide campaign in South Carolina - the 2002 governor's race between Mark Sanford and Jim Hodges - cost more than $12 million.

McGowan said he was registered as a Republican in North Carolina before he moved to South Carolina in 2003, where party identification is not required, and said he has voted for a mix of Republicans and Democrats over the years. "I have always tended towards the person and not the party," he said. "I've never voted straight party in anything."

He told CNN he cast his ballot for Republican Lindsey Graham in 2008 and even chose to vote in the state's GOP presidential primary last January instead of the Democratic contest. He voted for John McCain in that primary, he said, because he was the "least objectionable" Republican, and he viewed a vote for McCain as "a hedge against extremists that I saw at the time" seeking for the GOP nomination. But McGowan voted in favor of Barack Obama last November, and for John Kerry in 2004.

He ultimately descibes himself as a "populist" who will fight for the middle class against special interests, a message he thinks will resonate in 2010 despite predictions that Democrats could face a strong headwind in the mid-terms. "This is not going to be about running for or against the president, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid," he said. "Some have characterized that as the as evil triumvirate. This is not about that. This is about South Carolina."

McGowan, a medical malpractice attorney, said tort reform should not be a required element of federal health care legislation because South Carolina has already enacted meaningful reforms, although he said "it's not a perfect system." McGowan also said he supports a health care bill "with or without a public option" as long as the final bill drives down costs, helps small businesses and prevents insurance companies from denying coverage.

But McGowan also holds positions that might be considered out of step with other Democrats. On immigration reform - one of DeMint's pet topics - he said law enforcement should focus on businesses that employ illegal immigrants instead of just cracking down on immigrants themselves. But he said illegal immigrants shouldn't be granted an automatic pathway to citizenship. "If you're here illegally you need to home and get in line and come back through normal legal channels," he said.

Calling it part of his southern upbringing, the Democrat described himself as "a gun person."

"I think gun control is being able to hit what you're aiming at," he said.

Another Democrat, former auto executive Mike Ruckes, is also seeking the party's nomination for the Senate seat.

Filed under: 2010 • Chad McGowan • Jim DeMint • South Carolina
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Unemployed in IOWA

    liberal democrates vcannot handle the truth.

    October 19, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Slider

    Message to Dems from the DeMint campaign...


    If you idiots in the socialist party think that a Dem is going to have a shot in the next two election cycles then you are truly stupid.

    Democrat Party. A meeting place for Forrest Gumps everywhere.

    October 19, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. Frank, Las Vegas

    DeMint really needs to go. Good luck Mr. McGowen, you have the support of free thinking Americans across the country. Enough of the GOP say NO and lie as often as possible tactics.

    October 19, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. SC Conservative

    Chad is hotter than DeMiint! We want to see Chad!!!!!! Where's his picture?

    October 19, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. Albo58

    I hope the DNC and this President spends lots of time and money on DeMint's opponent because that means they're going to lost lots of money and time! DeMint will trample any pathetic contender the DNC finds/funds to run in a landslide!

    October 19, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. Jim

    Sounds like this guy is really a Republican. But its not conservatives that bother me, its the obstructionist, lying, right wing fringe like Senator DeMint that bothers me. Plus, DeMint needs to change his hair style. I bet he looks in the mirror every day thinking about how much he looks like Ronald Reagan.

    October 19, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Steve in Kentucky

    I'd donate to DeMinth's opponent.

    October 19, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Dan

    Trial Lawyer: hhhmmmm....... trial lawyers, well,
    the guys that made so much money on law suits against medical dr's and are opposing tort reform?!!!
    I see why he would be in the race against the guy who does not like Obama-care!

    October 19, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    DeMint has no business in the country...

    ...let alone in the Senate...

    ...he's a confederate TRAITOR...

    ...and that's a fact...

    ... he should've stayed in Honduras...

    October 19, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  10. carlos, THAT one

    demented, mc done, vitter et al....oh well, there is no need to comment, is there?????????

    October 19, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    I hope the demented Demint gets ousted. Break him, SC.

    Set us free from these right-wing nutjobs that are doing nothing for the residents of SC or the US.

    October 19, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Larry

    Just another Republican big mouth with NOTHING new to say

    I can not wait to see DeMint in two pieces come 2010

    HEY JIMMY, when you talk about breaking our President, then you are talking about trying to break this country

    WE THE PEOPLE want health care reform

    You can just get out of our way if your not for this country ... just get out of the way ... and watch out for the WE THE PEOPLE bus Jimmy ... we take NO prisoners

    October 19, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  13. Reb

    Well I agree fully with his stance on gun control and immigration, must be a pretty good guy, however I don't agree with his voting choices. We'll see.

    October 19, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  14. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    South Carolina, watch McGowan, he has no proven voting record to show if he is conservative enough for the State of South Carolina and he is an ambulance chasing lawyer so he is already on the integrity level of a used car salesman if not lower. As a Senator he needs to learn that what he does for South Carolina may also hurt or affect other states too.

    October 19, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. Pragmatic

    Senators represent their state ...but their decisions can change any American's life. Senator Jim DeMint? Taking questions from a friendly crowd of 500 people, Mr. DeMint did little to correct their misimpressions about health care legislation but rather reinforced their worst fears.

    Those who put Americans second to their political party will find themselves unemployed: this is no time for politics "as usual: ,,,

    October 19, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. johnnie w

    Jim DeMint is about to face his WATERLOO in 2010,he is going to FEEL the WRATH of the American People ,who SUPPORT the President, and that is the MAJORITY. He will not get a PASS, the Democrats are not going to let this DOOMER, forget what he he said about DEFEATING , Health Care Reform would be President Obamas WATERLOO.Well DeMint your going to find OUT about OBAMA POWER, in the ELECTION and see what it is LIKE to get KNOCKED OUT, with the POWER of the People. to use Health Reform to gain POLITICAL POINTS is the most down RIGHT UN (AMERICAN).DeMint is going to feel the HEAT from now till he PACKS his BAGS to leave that SENATE SEAT.Chad McGowan is YOUNG and what the NATION is looking to the YOUNG TO LEAD US.He is what the DOCTOR ordered ,for DeMint to be like NAPOLEON,his LAST STAND........

    October 19, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  17. yuri

    5 words-DeMint is a demented dude.

    October 19, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  18. joel palmer

    We can take down Demint; he is a blivot

    October 19, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. 60's survivor

    yay I'll vote for that guy. anyone besides "deminted" ugh!!

    October 19, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |