South Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson has drawn his first Democratic challenger in the 2022 cycle.
Aiken native and activist and organizer Gregory Karr, 33, announced through a campaign media release Wednesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Wilson, of Springdale, for the state’s 2nd District Congressional seat.
The 2nd District includes Aiken, Barnwell and Lexington counties, including parts of Orangeburg and Richland counties.
Born in Easley, but raised in Aiken as the youngest of five children to working-class parents, Karr’s campaign website said he has “dedicated his life to activism and the fight for social and economic justice for all.” Karr told The State he also helped organize for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns in South Carolina and elsewhere, and worked on numerous campaigns in Illinois.
“Gregory Karr will not go to Washington to make nice with the establishment and the elite, because they do not have the slightest understanding of our lives, nor any concern for the breath in our lungs or the food in our stomachs,” a statement from Karr’s campaign said. “Gregory will go to Washington to demand the dignity and economic security that We the People are owed, and he will fight like hell to win it all!”
Facing Wilson will be no easy feat.
Wilson is a known incumbent, who has successfully fended off challengers every cycle. Last year, he faced arguably the most competitive challenger in years, Democrat Adair Ford Boroughs, who set fundraising records in her election bid.
Wilson beat her by 13 percentage points, securing a 10th term in the U.S. House.
Republicans recorded one of their most successful election cycles in November 2020.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham beat his challenger, Jaime Harrison, who also raised millions, and Republicans reclaimed the Lowcountry’s 1st Congressional District after Democrats flipped it in the 2018 midterms. Republicans also flipped five State House seats and won a slew of local races.
“Democrats spent a boatload of money in South Carolina in 2020 and still lost by double digits — look no further than Jaime Harrison and Adair Ford Boroughs,” state Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement. “Like anywhere else in the state, voters in the 2nd Congressional District will reject the Left’s radical wish list. We look forward to beating Democrats yet again in 2022.”
But Karr told The State as a first-time candidate he can bring something different to the race.
Karr said often Democrats have not spoken directly to working people in South Carolina and resonated their messages with their concerns.
“It’s not really something South Carolina voters have been exposed to,” Karr said.