CHARLESTON — On March 20, Democrat Linda Ketner officially filed to run for Congress in the Palmetto State’s 1st District. As the first openly gay U.S. House of Representatives candidate in South Carolina history, Ketner faces a tough battle to defeat incumbent Republican Henry Brown.
Ketner is the daughter of Ralph Ketner, founder of the Food Lion grocery store chain. The Salisbury, N.C., native has been active in various community organizations, including the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Crisis Ministries and the Mayor’s Council on Homelessness and Affordable Housing. In the LGBT community, she has been active with Charleston’s Alliance for Full Acceptance and the South Carolina Equality Coalition.
“Many of you know that I grew up in a little town called Faith, and that I adored my grandmother,” Ketner said in an email to supporters. “Ma told me when I was a small child that if I saw something wrong, God counted on me to fix it. I took that lesson to heart and have spent my life working to solve problems and make a difference.
“We’ll forge a path that leads to an America which is again respected around the world — not because we have bigger guns and more money, but because we live our values of a level playing field, opportunity for all, fairness and compassion,” she added.
The conservative, coastal 1st District — stretching from Charleston north to Myrtle Beach — has been represented by Brown for four consecutive terms. According to the progressive HuffingtonPost.com, many Republicans have dismissed Ketner’s campaign as “wishful thinking.” Brown received a zero rating on the most recent Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard.
Ketner has already come under spurious attack for her pro-LGBT politics. The blog PalmettoScoop.com used a column she wrote for Q-Notes nearly two years ago to argue that Ketner is patently anti-Christian. In reality, the piece acknowledged the importance of faith in Ketner’s life, even as she strongly denounced those who use religion to justify homophobic discrimination.
If elected to office, Ketner would be the fifth openly gay elected official to serve in the U.S. House, following Reps. Gerry Studds (D-MA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jim Kolbe (R-AZ).