COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Rev. Mark Burns, one of more than a dozen Republicans seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, said his own past issues with making ends meet mean he’s the best candidate to relate to struggling voters.
Burns, who backed President Donald Trump during his campaign, told The Associated Press he will be joined Wednesday at a campaign event in Greenville by Bruce Carter, who founded Black Men for Bernie. Carter ultimately switched his allegiance in the 2016 election, forming Trump for Urban Communities after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination.
The men will appear together at a voter registration office, where Burns said they will announce a drive to register 75,000 new voters in the next month. That threshold, he said, will allow enough time for the newly registered to be able to vote in the June 12 primary elections.
“He was one of the other black faces who was doing ground work during the campaign,” Burns said, of Carter. “We’re two black men who are former Democrats. We’re going to break all records.”
Burns backed Trump’s campaign, giving a fiery speech on his behalf at the Republican National Convention. Now, the pastor and co-founder & CEO of Christian Television Network says he’s the best positioned among the 13 candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the heavily-Republican 4th Congressional District to speak authentically to lower-income Americans. Burns said he knows what it’s like to struggle with child support and be unable to pay bills.
“We’re talking to the group that I believe Republicans have forgotten all about,” Burns told AP. “I’ve been there. I’ve had to pay child support. I’ve had baby mama drama.”
Part of the voter registration effort, Burns said, will be focused on going door-to-door in low-income areas. Burns said he wants to talk with voters on issues that affect them directly, like wages and job creation.
“We can talk about the wall and DACA, but the people who go to flip their light on and it doesn’t come on, they don’t care about DACA,” he said.