This is the third in a series of posts that highlight our elected officials and candidates, focusing on what drove them to public service and their experience on the campaign trail. Hopefully, their stories will inspire YOU to make a difference and help turn South Carolina Blue!
We recently spoke with Democratic Congressional Candidate, Mary Geren, who is looking to unseat Republican incumbent Jeff Duncan in November and represent South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District in Washington, DC.
Mary has been an active member of the Anderson County Democratic Party, an activist for social causes in her community, and a dedicated educator at Clemson University and Tri-County Technical College. We wanted you to understand her motivation to run for public office and learn what it’s like to put yourself out there to be a servant of the people.
When did you first become involved in politics?
I’ve been involved since about 2007. I had volunteered in the campaigns for Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama. Locally, I helped with Jane Dyer’s campaign both times she ran for Congress. It’s been something I’ve felt a calling toward for some time. I also co-chair the Anderson chapter of SC Democrats Care.
What prompted you to take the leap from volunteer to candidate?
My first election was actually in 2012. I ran for a DNC delegate spot to nominate and eventually re-elect President Barack Obama. And, I won! I encourage folks who are interested in running for higher office to serve as delegates at the local, state, and/or national level. Doing so will give them an idea of what it is like to run an actual campaign.
In 2016, I ran for the SC State House here in District 9, and that was an interesting race! I ran against Ann Thayer, who is a very nice lady, and I had even taught her son. She had just disappointed me so much on the Confederate Flag issue. She was one of the few who voted to leave it flying on the State House grounds after the church shooting in Charleston.
In fact, it was Jaime Harrison who specifically asked me to run.
The fact that you had Jamie Harrison’s ear is impressive. How did you go about making connections and getting that type of support to run for office?
I gained connections through campaigning and volunteering, serving as a delegate at the state party convention and the DNC in 2012, working with the College Democrats at Tri-County Technical College- – taking them to conventions, etc. That’s what I encourage people to do; develop relationships and start networking. It’s not going to happen overnight. It took a decade’s worth of volunteering before I accepted the challenge to run for State House.
That doesn’t mean people have to wait 10 years before they should decide to run either. There’s never a perfect time!