Rep. Henry Brown (R)
South Carolina 1st District
Looking out across the harbor to Fort Sumter are the glorious mansions of the Battery, gazing on the same view that the hot-blooded young swells of Charleston did in April 1861 when they fired the shots that began the Civil War. Today, there are few more beautiful urban scenes in America than the pastel “single houses” of Charleston, built flush with the sidewalk, turning their shoulders to the streets, with open piazzas inside their iron gateways facing south to catch the breeze. Founded in 1670, Charleston was blessed with one of the finest harbors on the Atlantic, at the point where, Charlestonians like to say, the Ashley and Cooper rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean. It was one of the South’s two leading cities through the Civil War. Cargoes of rice, indigo, cotton and slaves, crossed its docks, enriching the white planters and merchants who dominated the state’s economic and political life. After the war, Charleston became an economic backwater, enabling the old buildings to survive. The loving restorations of recent years have made the center city look better than ever and attracted a considerable tourist trade.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Charleston’s old society is descended from Barbados planters and French Huguenots, Sephardic Jews and the second sons of English gentry, and was once a leading force in American political life. The hotheads in the gallery disrupted the 1860 Democratic National Convention here so boisterously that it was adjourned and reconvened in Baltimore, while Southern Democrats split off and nominated their own candidate, enabling Abraham Lincoln to win with 38% of the popular vote. The history of black South Carolinians, memorialized in George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, is noteworthy, but the tale of slavery, once hidden under a blanket of politeness, is only now emerging, as many, though not all, plantations near Charleston add programs on the history of slavery to tours once dominated by romantic tales of the old South.
Navy and Air Force bases once accounted for 20% of payrolls in metropolitan Charleston. Many of these bases are now closed, but a vibrant private economy with lots of small companies has emerged, most notably at the 1,600-acre Charleston Naval Base, where, thanks to concerted efforts by regional officials, thousands of new jobs have been created since the base closed in 1996. In 2007, the port handled goods worth more than $60 billion. It is the 16th busiest port in the nation; it’s larger than Norfolk but not as big as Savannah. Ninety miles northeast, Myrtle Beach has witnessed a boom in retirees and vacationers. Myrtle Beach and the 60-mile Grand Strand, miles of beachfront and golf courses, attract 14 million tourists annually and the population of Horry County has grown 31% since 2000.
The 1st Congressional District of South Carolina stretches along the coast from south of Charleston to north of Myrtle Beach, and takes in Murrells Inlet, Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach. It includes the heavily white Battery and the area west of the Ashley River but not the heavily African-American areas to the north and in North Charleston. But the 1st District is still relatively diverse, with a 20% black population. It also includes the burgeoning suburbs in Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Google in 2008 opened a $600 million data center in Berkeley, with an expected 200 new jobs. In addition to the dominant tourism industry, the chief sources of local jobs are the port, the military and farming. This is solidly Republican country. It voted 61% for George W. Bush in 2004 and 56% for John McCain in 2008. The conservatism of the Lowcountry—the term for South Carolina’s coastal counties, including Charleston—is more economic and less cultural than the conservatism of the Upstate region of South Carolina. Many voters here favor environmental restrictions and efforts to curb sprawl.
Rep. Henry Brown (R)
Elected: 2000, 5th term.
Born: Dec. 20, 1935, Bishopville .
Education: attended The Citadel; Baptist Col..
Family: Married (Billye); 3 children.
Military career: SC Natl. Guard, 1953-62.
Elected office: Hanahan City Council, 1981-85; SC House of Reps., 1985-00.
Professional Career: V.P., Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., 1958-85.
The congressman from the 1st District is Henry Brown, a Republican elected in 2000. Brown announced on January 4, 2010 that he would not seek re-election to a sixth term, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife of 54 years, Billye Brown, and his children and grandchildren. In a prepared statement, Brown said, “I chose to make the announcement at this time so that Republicans who have not considered running for Congress out of friendship or respect for my incumbency can consider their options to file and have adequate time to campaign.” The GOP should have no trouble keeping this seat in the November 2010 election.
|Henry Brown (R)||177,540||(52%)||($1,287,308)|
|Linda Ketner (D)||163,724||(48%)||($2,248,361)|
|Henry Brown (R)||42,588||(70%)|
|Katherine Jenerette (R)||11,488||(19%)|
|Paul Norris (R)||6,718||(11%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (60%), 2004 (88%), 2002 (89%), 2000 (60%)
Brown grew up on a small farm in Cordesville in Berkeley County, worked at the Charleston Naval Shipyard as his father had, and then spent almost 30 years working for the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain, where he eventually became a vice president. In 1981, at age 45, Brown was elected to the City Council in Hanahan, north of North Charleston. In 1985, he was elected to the state House in a special election, and ultimately rose to chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, where he shepherded the largest tax cut in state history. When Republican Mark Sanford, first elected to the U.S. House in 1994, made clear he would keep his promise to serve only three terms, Brown and other Republicans started running for the seat after the 1998 election. Brown stressed issues of concern to the district’s many senior citizens—property tax relief and shoring up the Social Security fund. To boost his name recognition, he distributed 20,000 “Oh! Henry” chocolate bars. Brown won endorsements from many legislators and from Christian conservatives. Buck Limehouse, his chief opponent and a Charleston developer, spent $790,000 to Brown’s $315,000 and had the support of most party leaders. In the six-candidate primary Brown led 44%-34%. In the runoff, he won 55%-45%. In the anticlimactic general election, Brown won 60%-36%.
In the House, Brown has moved his conservative voting record toward the center of his party in recent years. He is the ranking member of the Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee, which allows him to oversee aquaculture programs at Fort Johnson, which was built in the harbor in 1704 and has become a prominent marine biology laboratory. Even in this coastal district, he was a big booster of off-shore drilling during a heated partisan debate over the issue in 2008. “Have you ever heard of a natural gas spill?” he said. In the event that military detainees were released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, he sought in 2008 to assure that they were not transferred to a Navy brig in Charleston.
Looking after the interests of his district, Brown brokered a deal to add a Veterans Affairs facility next to the Medical University of South Carolina. He also helped to secure $81 million to connect Interstate 73 with Myrtle Beach. But he got some negative attention at home in 2004, when brush that he was burning on his property, with a permit, jumped to adjacent federal lands and burned 20 acres. When the U.S. Forest Service fined him, Brown threatened to retaliate with congressional action. He ultimately paid a $250 fine plus $4,700 in fire-fighting costs.
In 2008, Brown unexpectedly faced his first close re-election since he took office. His opponent, Democrat Linda Ketner, ran an aggressive campaign, including an ad that criticized his dealings with the Forest Service on his brush fire. She advocated an 18-month deadline for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, a reduction in carbon emissions, and increased reliance on renewable fuels. She spent $2.2 million, nearly half of it from her fortune as an heiress to the Food Lion supermarkets; Brown spent nearly $1.3 million. Ketner, who was running her first campaign, said that she is openly gay and had a female partner. Brown did not make an issue of her lifestyle, though he criticized her support of gay marriage as part of her “ultra-liberal record.” He won 52%-48%. In Charleston County, which cast 37% of the total vote, Ketner led 54%-46%; Brown won the other four counties, including 57%-43% in Horry.