Last night before hundreds of gathered family, friends, and supporters at the historic Robert Mills Courthouse in Camden; Thomas Stowe “Tom” Mullikin announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress for the 5th District of S.C., the seat held by Trump’s recently tapped budget chief Mick Mulvaney.
It’ll be something of an 80-day dash to the special election this summer. Mullikin is not the only candidate running. But in my estimation, he’s far-and-away the best-suited for the job. Here are a few reasons why.
First, though Mullikin is a lot of things – energy and environmental expert, attorney, university professor, global expedition leader (mountaineer
and diver), and military officer – he’s not a politician.
Not being a “politician” is huge for me personally.
Full disclosure. Mullikin is a longtime friend. But he’s more. I have worked closely with him for years on a variety of projects, and in that I’ve learned much about his character. The man truly loves people. He listens. He doesn’t judge. He forgives. He gives. He strives to “love his neighbor as [himself],” readily conceding that the second great commandment may not always be easy, but it must be pursued to its greatest end.
Beyond that, Mullikin is a no nonsense thought-leader who moves well in all circles and articulates his points in ways that appeal to everyone from middle school students to scientists to senior military leaders and defense experts.
Speaking of the military, among those who have thus far announced their races for the 5th District congressional seat, Mullikin is the only one who has ever served in uniform.
He is a former U.S. Army JAG officer who went on to serve in two elements of the S.C. Military Dept., today commanding the all-volunteer S.C. State Guard (SCSG).
Not a necessity, but absolutely a plus, particularly in a district with so many veterans and military retirees; and with communities supporting and being supported by nearby bases like Shaw AFB and Fort Jackson (which though not in the district, certainly has a vital economic impact on the communities within it) as well as the various National Guard installations.
Then there are the weighty fiscal issues, the national debt, energy security, jobs.
The national debt is nearly $20-trillion. That’s utterly incomprehensible, and no one is doing anything about it. Most politicians have resigned themselves to blaming others for the debt, excusing the problem as an issue they’ve inherited, saying they are working on it. Yet still increasing spending, and instead focusing on who should be able to use what public restroom. If you stop and think about it, that’s insane. Yet we keep electing them and reelecting them to public office.
Mullikin can fix things. He’s not a career politician: He says he will push for a term-limits bill as his day-one first order of business.
He’s a solutions man. The proof, if nothing else, is in his command of the historic 900-plus-member SCSG.
When Mullikin became commander less than three years ago, the SCSG had devolved into an organization with a marginal mission and reputation. No more. Under Mullikin’s leadership, the SCSG has become (and is becoming) a leaner, younger, infinitely more professional military organization with a newfound reputation of fielding some of the finest search-and-rescue assets in the southeast, perhaps the nation.
As far as his federal service, Mullikin was a U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) Corps officer with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 12th Legal Support Organization where he served as a trial counsel. He then served as International Legal Officer for the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), before beginning service in the S.C. Military Dept.
Mullikin’s military service and his passion for veterans have created a buzz among fellow veterans in S.C. and beyond, already earning the support of military veterans like retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston and retired U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Mike Thornton, both recipients of the MEDAL OF HONOR.
Mullikin knows the law. He knows, has worked closely with, and appreciates the interests of stakeholders in the energy industry. He is committed to energy security. And he is equally passionate about the environment. “We will work to ensure economic and environmental sustainability,” he says.
Mullikin loves his family, his community and his country. That may sound trite and simple to 21st-century ears, but for those of us who know Mullikin best, we recognize that what best-defines him is a pure, selfless, unapologetic love for others.
If there is anything else I might add, both subjectively and objectively, about Mullikin as a congressional candidate – and there is (though not enough time here) – it’s that if he tells someone he is going to do something, he will.
Perhaps that is reason enough for me.
Watch Mullikin’s announcement for SC Congressional Seat District 5 at Robert Mills Courthouse in Camden:
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