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The Lowcountry Democrats hoping to flip S.C. District 1

Democrats Michael B. Moore (left) and Mac Deford (right) face off in South Carolina's District 1 primary on June 11, 2024.
Moore and Deford congressional campaigns
Democrats Michael B. Moore (left) and Mac Deford (right) face off in South Carolina's District 1 primary on June 11, 2024.

At Washington Square Park behind Charleston city hall, a walking tour guide shares a story about Black Civil War Hero Robert Smalls who escaped slavery by commandeering a Confederate ship in the Charleston harbor.

As if on cue, Smalls’ great-great grandson takes a seat on a park bench. Michael B. Moore is eager to talk about his Democratic primary bid for congress.

“For me, what makes this particular race exceptionally special is that I’m running for the same seat that my great-great grandfather Robert Smalls served back in Reconstruction,” says Moore.

The 61-year-old wants to represent South Carolina’s 1st congressional district as his famous ancestor did 150 years ago. Moore has never run for office before.

Just blocks away at an office on Church Street, 35-year-old Mac Deford has put his career as an attorney on hold to launch his first political bid. He also wants to represent the coastal district in congress.

“We need more people that are public servants serving in Washington,” says Deford. “We don’t need people that are looking to elevate themselves for private gain.”

Both Deford and Moore want to replace Republican incumbent Nancy Mace and flip the seat. They face off in a primary on June 11th.

Both must also battle a redrawn district map that federal judges have ruled unconstitutional because it exiles 30 thousand Black voters. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments seven months ago but has yet to weigh in.

So, for now, the map stands.

Michael B. Moore wants to serve the Lowcountry in Congress as he great-great-grandfather Robert Smalls did 150 years ago.
Moore congressional campaign
Michael B. Moore wants to serve the Lowcountry in Congress as he great-great-grandfather Robert Smalls did 150 years ago.

Michael B. Moore

Moore is a father of four who lives in Mount Pleasant. He says he’s motivated, not only by the legacy of his great-great grandfather, but the future of his children.

“Thinking about my kids and my grandchild, I have real concerns about the world that my generation is leaving theirs,” says Moore.

Moore says he’s concerned about climate change, affordable healthcare, women's rights and public education. His renowned ancestor founded public schools in South Carolina through legislation.

“We’ve got to stop with the political foolishness around where we’re banning books and we’re preventing certain topics,” says Moore. “We need to let teachers do their jobs.”

Moore is also a longtime businessman who served as the first president of Charleston’s International African American Museum.

He says he’s not sure the coastal district’s current Republican representative, Nancy Mace, is doing her job. He believes she may be more focused on herself.

“You know a lot of the stunts and things she’s been involved in have seemed like maybe she’s positioning herself for what she believes would be a future Trump administration,” says Moore.

“Or maybe she’s trying to get a gig on Fox news, who knows.”

Democrat Mac Deford is a Coast Guard veteran and attorney who wants to serve the Lowcountry in congress.
Deford campaign
Democrat Mac Deford is a Coast Guard veteran and attorney hoping to serve the Lowcountry in congress.

Mac Deford

Mac Deford, also from Mount Pleasant, is a Coast Guard veteran and attorney who works with local governments. He also takes issue with Mace and says the Lowcountry deserves better.

“You should want someone who is going to represent you with integrity, someone who’s going to be professional,” says Deford.

“And not going to use a slew of profanities in a committee hearing.”

Deford says he wants to serve to tackle issues like gun violence, extreme weather, affordable housing and aging infrastructure. And, he says, he has experience as a legal advisor who’s drafted ordinances.

“We talk about affordable housing or infrastructure projects — when you get to Congress, they’re not going to give you a manual that tells you everything you need to know,” says Deford. “You have to know how things work.”

When it comes to women’s rights, Deford says, he knows the pain families face when access to safe, legal abortions is denied.

His grandmother, Adele, had eight kids when she learned she was pregnant, and the family could not afford it. This was before Roe v. Wade.

“So, Adele didn’t have the opportunity to go and seek a safe and legal procedure,” says Deford. “That drove her to a backroom procedure.”

Deford says Adele died from complications following the abortion. He says the family was split up and his mother was put in foster care where she suffered abuse.

Primary day 2024

The deadline to register in-person to vote is May 10th. Registration by mail must be posted marked May 13th while the online deadline is May 12th.

Polls for both the Democratic and Republican primaries open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 11th.
Absentee/ mail-in ballots must be returned by June 11th as well.

As we head into the election, we want to hear from you. Have questions about the candidates or the voting process? We are working with partners at America Amplified to get the answers and share them with you. Submit your questions using the form below.


Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.