Meet Joe Cunningham
Former United States Congressman Joe Cunningham was born and raised in a small, rural town in western Kentucky before moving to South Carolina to attend the College of Charleston over twenty years ago.
His father, Bill, is a Vietnam Veteran and former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice. His mother, Paula, helped raise five rowdy boys while starting and operating her own publishing company from their kitchen table.
A product of public school, Joe attended the College of Charleston before graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors of Science in Ocean Engineering. After graduation, he worked for a marine and environmental consulting firm in Naples, Florida for five years before being laid off during the 2008 recession. He later graduated from Northern Kentucky University's Salmon P. Chase College of Law, where he also served as the national Vice-Chair of the Student Bar Association.
After passing the bar exam, Joe moved back to Charleston where he began practicing construction law at a downtown firm.
In 2018, he became the first Democrat to be elected to South Carolina's First Congressional District in over 40 years. The Charleston Post and Courier called his victory the "biggest upset in modern South Carolina history."
During his two-year term in office, Congressman Cunningham was widely recognized for his accomplishments. While serving on the House Veterans Affairs and Natural Resources Committees, he passed two bills into law in his first term, including the Veterans Tele-hearing Modernization Act and the Great American Outdoors Act. In 2019, Joe delivered on another signature campaign promise when the House passed his bipartisan bill banning offshore drilling.
Delivering on his promise to put "Lowcountry Over Party," Cunningham was considered one of the most independent and bipartisan members of Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked him the 4th most bipartisan member of Congress and The Lugar Center ranked him as the most bipartisan freshman in the House in 2019.
Among his proudest legislative achievements in Congress are the passage of his bill to close the Charleston gun loophole, the "For The People Act," which gets dark money out of politics and ends gerrymandering, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Despite significant crossover support, Cunningham was narrowly defeated in 2020 by just one point in a district that President Trump carried by six. In his farewell address to Congress, he decried the hyperpartisanship and extremism in modern politics in a speech that has been viewed over 1 million times online.
Since leaving Congress, Cunningham has returned to practicing law in Charleston and spending time with his son, Boone.