District 5 congressional hopeful visits Sumter

Chad Connelly stumps at Bubba's Diner

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Hours before South Carolina Congressional District 5 Rep. Mick Mulvaney was approved as President Trump's new budget director, Chad Connelly campaigned for the District 5 seat he will vacate at Bubba's Diner in Sumter.

The conservative Christian candidate for the Republican nomination to fill Mulvaney's seat received a warm welcome from the similar-minded crowd at the eatery.

As waitresses squeezed between campaign staffers and local supporters to bring people their breakfasts, Connelly said he was campaigning on a platform of term limits, free enterprise and public involvement.

"We are losing the country," he said, "and it nobody's fault but our own."

He urged other Christian conservatives similar to himself to become more engaged in the nation's political system.

"I believe our country is off the rails, and God expects us to do our part," he said.

He said he believes Washington will not be reformed until he country ends the reign of career politicians.

"I don't believe we are going to clean up Washington until we have term limits," he said.

The engaging candidate grew up in Prosperity, South Carolina, he said.

"It's about 200 people if you count the animals," he said.

Connelly, a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, has spent the past few years as leader of the national Republican Party's outreach to evangelical Christians, traveling extensively throughout the country to engage faith leaders to become more active in politics.

He said that outreach has taken him to 21 states in the past year.

"All of the traveling has shown me people are frustrated," he said.

A Clemson graduate who helped pay his way through college by working at McDonald's and in the engineering lab, Connelly is married to his second wife Michelle. Both endured the deaths of earlier spouses. He brought two sons into the marriage and she brought two daughters.

"Our life has been one of restoration," he said.

He said he is not wanting to be another "Brady Bunch," however, joking about the television series.

"Four is a busy household," he said.

Connelly, who said he is still a member of the National Guard, promised he would not be a stranger to Sumter if elected.

"I am a military guy," he said. "Shaw Air Force Base matters. Since the Third Army moved here, it is even more important to our mission."

Sumter Republican Party Chairwoman Shery Smith introduced Connelly to the morning crowd and said he is one of the foremost candidates for the District 5 seat.

"He's a military guy, a small business guy and he has a good message," she said.

Connelly said he has many "arrows in his back" for the positions he has staked out.

"You can't please everybody, but you can at least let people know what you believe," he said.