Decision 2020: Joe Cunningham vs. Nancy Mace (SC-01)

Adriana Quinonez Solano ’24

Joe Cunningham, Official Porrtait, 116th Congress
Joe Cunningham. U.S. House Office of Photography/House Creative Services, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The race of Democratic incumbent Joe Cunningham against Republican Nancy Mace, who has served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representative for District 99, has sparked concerns over the fate of the 117th Congress. South Carolina District 1 which covers the majority of the Atlantic coast from Charleston to Hilton Head Island, has become one of the most crucial toss-up districts in the presidential election. District 1 is made up by majority white veterans, retirees, and immigrants. District 1 has remained a predominantly Republican district for the past four decades until 2018 when the congressional seat was flipped by Joe Cunningham.

Joe Cunningham was the first Democratic candidate that flipped the seat after President Trump won 53% of the constituents’ vote in 2016. Cunningham serves on the Natural Resources and Veterans Affairs committees. He has successfully passed a bill during the 116th Congress, the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act, which allows appellants to appear in case hearings remotely. This prioritizes the safety of vulnerable veterans to COVID-19. Cunningham, being an incumbent, possesses an advantage in the current election, however, many residents of District 1 have historically voted for Republican representatives for the past 38 years. So far Cunningham’s campaign has been focused on aggressive advertisements and fundraising, he has become a very well-funded candidate in the congressional race (Ballotpedia).

Due to its location alongside the Atlantic coast, many concerns of district 1 residents include the environment; the area is prone to flooding in the Charleston area due to the ongoing climate change events. Cunningham has proposed bills in order to address the flooding problems along the coast, such as the Defense Access Roads Enhancement Act which authorizes the Pentagon to construct and reinforce infrastructure to control flood damage. Cunningham has also successfully passed a bill banning offshore drilling, which his opponent supports (

NancyMace2017 (cropped)
Nancy Mace. Jm817, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nancy Mace has analyzed closely the concerns and needs for the constituents of District 1. She supports flood planning to protect small businesses and families, and she participates in the American Flood Coalition to monitor the tidal changes and the threats this might pose to the constituents. Nancy has been serving District 99 for the 123rd South Carolina House of Representatives; she has worked in marketing, public relations, and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. While representing District 99, she became the first woman to represent the district and prioritized infrastructure, power plant issues, education and sustainability. Nancy Mace brings many skills into this congressional election, and her skills and charisma have made the competition a nerve-wrecking experience for voters (Palmetto Politics).

The stakes are high for both candidates. If Mace wins over the seat, it will be a historical moment of confirmation that the state district is controlled by Republicans and the blue wave of the 2018 election was simply fueled by inconsistency of the voters. However, if Cunningham wins, he would make history by being the longest serving Democrat in the district since 1981 (Palmetto Politics).

Bibliography:, C. (2020, September 14). Republican Nancy Mace wins Statehouse District 99 election. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

Cunningham, J. (n.d.). Joe Cunningham. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

Nancy Mace. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District election, 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from’s_1st_Congressional_District_election,_2020, T. (2020, October 20). Both Cunningham and Mace have a chance to make history in SC’s 1st district race. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from, T. (2020, September 29). SC 1st Congressional District: Cunningham and Mace differ on climate change science views. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from