Article: Bluffton TodayBy: Dan Hunt
Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert, who represents Bluffton-area District 7, said Thursday he is planning to run for Congress as a Republican in 2020.
The Virginia native and Beaufort County resident of 23 years will seek the South Carolina District 1 seat in the House of Representatives, which was won by Democrat Joe Cunningham last month.
“We have been working on this for about a year now,” Covert said. “I had some people approach me about running for federal office and we started working on it. I have a consultant that I use and one thing led to another. And when election day came around, that really solidified some things.”
Covert said when Katie Arrington edged out incumbent Rep. Mark Sanford for the Republican nomination, his “ears perked up” and he saw a divided party as part of the reason for her eventual defeat to Cunningham.
Cunningham became the first Democrat to win the 1st District seat in 40 years after a campaign in which he strongly criticized the Trump administration’s plans to allow seismic testing for offshore oil and gas deposits. Environmental groups say the seismic blasts can harm marine life.
Arrington said during the primary she supported all of Trump’s energy policies, including seismic testing, but maintained in the general election campaign that she is opposed to offshore drilling.
Covert said he is willing to listen to experts discuss whether there are non-harmful methods of testing for shale gas off the state’s coast.
“Katie Arrington’s careless dismissal of seismic testing was a mistake and a failure to support President Trump’s move to empower the states,” Covert said. “As your congressman, I will support President Trump for the benefit of all South Carolinians.”
Covert said he doesn’t “do anything unless I feel like I can win” and that local supporters have instilled confidence in him in recent months.
“I’m not a boisterous type of person and I don’t like to make it about me, but I have had people tell me that my ideas, my approach and no-nonsense, even some of my non-PC-isms and attitude is a breath of fresh air locally,” he said.
He added that the same supporters have told him they think “Congress is running amok” and it’s led to his platform of deregulation.
“I’m a constitutional conservative. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the federal government should pay for and regulate education for children. That’s a waste of money and that purpose belongs to the states,” he said.
“I believe that deregulation is what we need to do in Congress, not continually over-regulation. We’ve got plenty of laws; we’ve got laws we don’t even use.
“Barry Goldwater back in 1960 said, ‘I’m not here to make more laws. I’m here to get rid of them.’”
The owner and founder of Covert Aire in Bluffton said he has experienced over-regulation firsthand at his business.
“My business is regulated to the hilt. It’s strapping,” Covert said. “So if that’s happening to a little old air-conditioning guy, think about what else it’s doing.”
Covert is a subcommittee vice chairman with the National Association of Counties. He serves on the Energy, Environmental and Land-use Committee, which he said devotes much of its focus to water.
Covert’s term on Beaufort County Council expires at the end of 2020 and he said he’s been asked by constituents how he would be able to balance his duties to the county with a major upcoming campaign.
“This has nothing to do with my service on County Council. I don’t plan on not doing the job I was elected to do by any stretch,” he said. “In fact, I’m probably going to be more involved after January than I was this year.
“This is just how politics work. It’s the next thing. I’m looking at what’s coming down the road and this happens to be it.”