SOUTH CAROLINA — After the close Congressional special election in Georgia with the Democratic candidate pulling in 48 percent of the vote, political eyes are fixed on South Carolina.
That’s where six Republicans, six Democrats and three independent candidates are all vying to replace former Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney in another special election. The race is seen as another attempt to put President Trump on the ballot to send a message to the White House.
President Trump appointed Mulvaney as his Budget Director, leaving his seat in the 5th District up for grabs.
The evangelical Christian voting bloc that catapulted President Trump into the White House in 2016 is on the ground in South Carolina trying to do the same for Republicans in that Congressional race.
Chad Connelly is one of those candidates. He’s knocking on doors, reaching out to voters and promising to bring his faith to the forefront of his campaign.
“I think we as Christians need to start looking at things, not as the polls say, not as the experts so but as the Lord says. What does the Lord say? What does the word say? We got to look through a biblical lens to make decision. I really try to live my life that way,” explained Connelly.
He already has the backing of House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
“I know Mick Mulvaney very well, the previous congressman, and what Chad has demonstrated over time and certainly has reinforced is that he won’t forget South Carolina when he goes to Washington, D.C.," said Meadows.
But despite the support of heavy hitters like Meadows, Connelly knows the power that evangelical voters have.
It’s a lesson he learned as the former director of Faith and Outreach for the Republican National Committee.
“I saw the number from various polling that some 80 million people are sitting in churches. But only 30 couple million vote. So really it’s our fault what’s been going on. It’s 40-50 million people who identify with the Bible, the Lord, their church in a Biblical worldview that don’t bother to go vote,” said Connelly.
One political group is working to change those numbers.
The Rampart PAC is a unique kind of political action committee with the sole mission of putting people of faith, including pastors, in office.
Taking a line from Francis Scott Key’s poem that became the national anthem, the group believes that just as patriots wondered if the American flag could be seen over the ramparts during battle "at the twilight's last gleaming" long ago, freedom will again prevail today as it did back then.
They put that belief into action by backing Connelly and others like him, so that Judeo-Christian values can take center stage in Washington.
Pastor Mark Harris believes that groups like Rampart PAC are essential when it comes to undoing things like the Johnson Amendment- which forbids churches and other non-profit groups from supporting or endorsing political candidates.
“We feel like that getting the best candidates into office will take place once you begin to have believers stepping up and churches awakening. And pastors engaging in the process as well,” said Harris.
Harris, who has run for office himself, has a message for fellow Christians who say believers should not be involved in politics.
“If you look a Biblical principle, whether it be Moses, or in the New Testament and you look at Jesus, they were engaged in every aspect of life. As a Christian, as a believer and follower of Christ, I can’t just pick and choose what areas of life I am going to choose to live out my faith.” Harris explained.
The Rampart PAC is putting its faith and financial backing behind that belief. Time will tell if it pays off.
Other candidates on the GOP side have also raised big bucks, with Republican candidate Ralph Norman bringing in more than half a million so far.
And Democratic challenger Archie Parnell has reportedly raised a quarter of a million.
He’s hoping to flip the traditionally red district to blue.
The South Carolina special primary election is May 2.