Volvo warned that US trade tariffs could jeopardize jobs in South Carolina, a factor that became an issue the in the midterm election
Washington (AFP) - A South Carolina Democrat on Tuesday staged one of the biggest upsets in the US midterm elections, in part after campaigning against tariffs he said threatened jobs with major European automakers.
The heavily Republican congressional district adjacent to Charleston, South Carolina, had not elected a Democrat representative in 40 years.
But local attorney and ocean engineer Joe Cunningham bested Republican Katie Arrington, who President Donald Trump emphatically endorsed.
Campaign watchers said Arrington suffered badly as a result of her initial support for unpopular offshore oil-and-gas development.
But Cunningham also distanced himself by vocally opposing Trump’s tariffs, which he said jeopardized local manufacturing jobs with companies such as Volvo, Boeing, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Volvo warned June that the US-China trade dispute could cause the company to backtrack on plans to export cars to China from South Carolina, undermining the creation of up to 4,000 jobs.
“These tariffs are dangerous and could be catastrophic for Lowcountry families,” Cunningham said. “In Congress, I will vote to overturn these tariffs.”
Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, told AFP that Cunningham’s pro-trade message resonated with voters.
“South Carolina has been the beneficiary of the automotive industry,” he said.
“There’s no question that it played a role in the minds of people. We have always been a state that had a great relationship with those companies.”