Cook Political Report Shifted Its SC-Gov Rating Favorably to Democrats Just Four Days After Cunningham Announced His Campaign

June 14, 2021

PHILADELPHIA — Today, 314 Action Fund announced its endorsement of former Congressman Joe Cunningham for governor of South Carolina. This is 314 Action’s first endorsement of a gubernatorial challenger in the 2022 cycle, and a strong sign of the faith the organization — which works to elect pro-science and pro-truth candidates to office — has in Cunningham’s strength as a candidate in this key race.

314 Action has worked with Cunningham for years. In the 2020 cycle, 314 Action Fund invested over $1 million in support of Cunningham in South Carolina’s first congressional district and raised nearly $30,000 in grassroots donations for his campaign.

“Just because he has a degree in history doesn’t mean Henry McMaster can rewrite his own history of failed leadership in South Carolina,” said Shaughnessy Naughton, president of 314 Action. “During his tenure, unemployment in the Palmetto State swelled to 12 percent as hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, while McMaster continued business as usual. South Carolina deserves a leader in Columbia who will operate with facts and knowledge to help people and grow the economy, and a science-minded engineer like Joe Cunningham is the person to bring that change. In Congress, Joe passed a bill that banned dangerous drilling off of South Carolina’s precious coasts, and actually helped save the coastal economy in the process. With Joe as the nominee, there is no question he will be the governor that South Carolinians deserve — because as 2020 showed us, candidates with strong science backgrounds, who listen to facts instead of misinformation, and who are committed to fighting on behalf of the people of their state are winners. 314 Action is prepared to invest serious time and resources into ensuring Joe wins not just the nomination, but also the governorship come next November.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of 314 Action for my campaign for Governor of South Carolina,” said Joe Cunningham. “For too long, our state has been led by governors who put politics ahead of science. When it comes to tackling COVID-19, climate change, public education or affordable healthcare, I’ll be a governor who listens to the experts and makes decisions based on facts and data.”

In 2018, 314 Action Fund was the lone outside organization that stood with Cunningham during his first congressional campaign’s most critical moments. Leading up to the election, 314 Action Fund spent $523,000 to blanket the airwaves in the Charleston and Savannah media markets with comparative ads highlighting Cunningham’s opposition to offshore oil drilling. This was in direct contrast to his opponents public remarks in support of this environmentally- and economically-destructive practice, which helped provide Cunningham with a path to his historic victory.

Through the 2020 election cycle, 314 Action Fund’s independent expenditure arm spent over $11.5 million, including significant expenditures in several primary contests. Ahead of this gubernatorial election, 314 Action Fund and its over six million grassroots supporters will fight to ensure that Cunningham is the Democratic nominee and that he defeats Henry McMaster in the general election. 

In 2022, 314 Action Fund will raise that bar, and aim to spend $50 million to elect scientists across all levels of government, with initial targets of seven U.S. Senate races, forty U.S. House races, and twenty-one statewide races — including the South Carolina gubernatorial election. 


In 2018, Cunningham, a former ocean engineer, became the first Democrat since the 1970s to be elected to represent South Carolina’s first congressional district. Cunningham was able to leverage his experience as an ocean engineer to speak credibly on the issue of offshore oil drilling, which his opponent supported. Winning with 50.7% of the vote, Cunningham’s win was called “one of the biggest upsets of the midterms” by the New York Times.

In Congress, Cunningham introduced and passed a bill to ban oil drilling off the coast of South Carolina. A friend of science and of the environment, Cunningham will lead by fighting for evidence-based, facts-first policies as governor that help provide South Carolinians with the resources they need to succeed.


314 Action Fund is powered by a grassroots community of over six million people working to elect scientists, doctors, and STEM professionals who will use science and facts to address our most pressing issues like climate change and health care. In 2018 and 2020, we played a pivotal role in flipping the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, electing eleven Democratic scientists to federal office, as well as over 100 to state and local offices. In 2021 and 2022, 314 Action Fund will continue working to elect science leaders and defeat climate deniers in Congress and legislatures across the country.