Duke Buckner is a Republican politician running for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District seat in 2024. He previously sought the same office in 2022 and ran for U.S. Senate in 2020. Buckner has an extensive background as an attorney, educator, real estate professional, and mediator in South Carolina. His 2024 congressional campaign focuses on conservative policies and a desire to serve the people of his home state.
Early Life and Education
Duke Buckner was born on November 1, 1971 in Walterboro, South Carolina. He was raised in the Lowcountry region by parents Duke Sr. and Betty Buckner along with his three sisters. Buckner graduated from Colleton County High School in 1990 where he was active in student council, Junior ROTC, and peer mediation.
After high school, Buckner attended South Carolina State University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English Education in 1994. During college, Buckner was involved with the university’s NAACP chapter and intramural sports.
In 2007, Buckner graduated from Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law with his Juris Doctor degree. He passed the bar exam and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar that same year.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Buckner worked for two years as an English teacher at Beaufort Middle School from 1995 to 1997. He left teaching to pursue a career in real estate, getting his broker’s license in 1998. For over a decade, Buckner worked as a licensed realtor and broker primarily serving the Hilton Head area.
Buckner decided to attend law school in the early 2000s. After passing the bar in 2007, he opened a private law practice in Hampton County focused on real estate, family law, and mediation services. He ran the practice full-time up until announcing his first political campaign in 2019.
Throughout his legal career, Buckner has been an active member of the South Carolina Bar Association and served on the Executive Committee. He is also affiliated with the Florida State Bar from an earlier part of his career.
Additionally, Buckner obtained certification as a mediator from the South Carolina Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section in 2009. He mediates legal disputes and serves as an arbitrator in the Lowcountry area.
Buckner’s official entry into politics came in February 2019 when he announced he would be running as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham. He cited a desire to bring reform, term limits, and a fresh perspective to Congress. One of his core issues was improving healthcare for families.
2020 Senate Run
In the June 2020 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Buckner ultimately finished 4th out of 5 candidates, receiving around 6% of the vote. The winner with 68% of votes was Graham, who went on to secure re-election in November.
During his Senate campaign, some of Buckner’s main policy priorities included:
- Repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a new healthcare system
- Protecting the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms
- Improving care for veterans and the armed forces
- Reforming the tax code to help middle class families
- Enacting congressional term limits
Despite his Senate primary loss, Buckner continued to explore his political options. In March 2021, he set his sights on South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District seat held by Democrat James Clyburn.
2022 House Run
For the 2022 election cycle, Buckner sought the Republican nomination for the House seat representing parts of Columbia, Charleston, and other central South Carolina areas. He defeated one primary opponent, receiving 75% of the vote.
Buckner’s second congressional campaign focused on similar conservative policy planks:
- Stopping the agenda of the radical left
- Advocating for pro-life policies
- Protecting the 2nd Amendment
- Reforming the tax system
- Improving economic opportunities
In November’s general election, Buckner faced the toughest battle of his political career trying to unseat Clyburn. The 15-term incumbent had represented the district since 1993. Ultimately, Clyburn defeated Buckner by a margin of 62% to 38% to win another term.
2024 House Run
Just weeks after his loss in the 2022 midterms, Buckner announced he would again seek the District 6 seat in 2024. This time, he will likely face a more crowded Republican primary field before advancing to the general election.
So far in the 2024 race, Buckner is continuing to campaign on similar conservative platforms:
- Protecting constitutional rights like gun ownership
- Improving jobs and the district’s economy
- Reining in government spending
- Increasing domestic energy production
- Delivering quality, affordable healthcare
Buckner cites his professional experience and local ties as preparation to serve the district well. His path to potential victory involves maximizing turnout from the region’s conservative base.
Political Views and Priorities
Ideologically, Buckner aligns with traditional conservative and Republican positions on major policy issues. Some of his top priorities include:
Economy – Buckner believes in free market principles and fiscal responsibility. He wants to cut taxes, spur business growth, and reduce burdensome regulations. Buckner also prioritizes reforming the tax code to benefit working families.
Healthcare – Buckner strongly opposes the Affordable Care Act. He wants to repeal it entirely and replace it with a new system centered around free market solutions. Specific ideas include allowing insurance purchases across state lines and expanding health savings accounts.
Jobs – If elected, Buckner plans to work bringing more jobs to the district through business incentives, vocational training support, and infrastructure upgrades. He also wants to pursue energy independence and maintain strong national defense to boost the economy.
Education – Buckner supports education reform policies like school choice, vouchers to attend private schools, greater teacher autonomy, and reductions in administrative bureaucracy. He is outspoken against certain curriculum and activities he sees as politically ideological indoctrination.
2nd Amendment – Buckner strongly defends Americans’ right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. He is against additional gun regulations and scored a 93% pro-gun rating from the NRA in 2020.
Immigration – Buckner wants stronger border security measures to stop illegal immigration including barriers, more patrol agents, and mandatory use of e-Verify by employers. He believes immigrants should follow the proper legal process to enter and remain in the country.
Abortion – Buckner identifies as pro-life, stating he believes life begins at conception. He wants to end federal funding for abortion providers and appoint pro-life judges.
Term Limits – Buckner has consistently said he supports enacting term limits of 12 total years for members of both the House and Senate. He wants to bring reform and new blood to Congress.
Foreign Policy – Buckner promotes a policy of “peace through strength” to defend America’s interests globally. He supports maintaining a powerful military and using it judiciously to combat terrorism and other threats abroad as needed.
Outside of his professional and political endeavors, Buckner has been involved with community groups and activities in South Carolina for many years. He has a longtime affiliation with the Hampton County Rotary Club chapter, serving as its President from 2016 to 2017.
Faith plays an important role in Buckner’s life. He and his family are members of the St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Walterboro where he has served as a steward.
In his free time, Buckner enjoys fishing, playing golf, listening to jazz music, and spending time with his wife and their four adult children. He and his wife Wendy reside in Hampton County.
Why He is Running
When announcing his 2024 congressional campaign, Buckner explained his motivation centered on a calling to serve the people and a desire to restore America’s promise for the next generation:
“I am running for Congress because I believe it is time for leaders who care more about serving the people than their own power. I will work to defend the God-given rights and freedoms guaranteed to every American so that our children will inherit the same opportunities we had. Together, we can get our country back on track by restoring faith, family and freedom.”
Throughout his career, Buckner has shown a steady determination to represent the values and improve the lives of local South Carolina communities. He aims to be a strong advocate for the district if ultimately elected to Congress.
Criticisms and Controversies
As a veteran political candidate, Buckner has faced his fair share of criticisms and controversies during past campaigns.
In the 2020 Senate primary race, Buckner drew scrutiny for some out-of-state campaign donations he accepted, including significant support from a Texas businessman. Opponents tried to portray him as beholden to “special interests” outside South Carolina.
During his 2022 House run, the Clyburn campaign and other Democrats attempted to connect Buckner to extremist groups and figures. They pointed to Buckner once speaking at an event affiliated with QAnon conspiracies as evidence he catered to the “radical fringe.” Buckner dismissed these attacks as dishonest partisan smears.
On policy matters, opponents have targeted Buckner for his strict pro-life stance on abortion with no exceptions. His Democratic challengers have also criticized ideas like voucher programs and education budget cuts.
Overall, Buckner maintains that mudslinging comes with the territory in heated political contests. He contends scrutiny of his record and ideas is fair but personal attacks cross the line.
What Supporters Say
Buckner has built a base of enthusiastic support particularly among Lowcountry conservatives. His supporters point to his integrity, work ethic, and leadership roots in the community.
Fellow Republicans praise Buckner’s consistent stand for their shared principles whether on taxes, gun rights, or abortion. Many see his multiple congressional runs as evidence of his tenacity and commitment to public service.
In endorsing his 2022 campaign, the editorial board of South Carolina’s The Times and Democrat wrote:
“Buckner has the background, experience and knowledge that will make him an effective leader for the district. His platform reflects the values of the majority of voters in the district…He understands the needs of residents and businesses.”
If elected in 2024, Buckner’s backers believe he would be a strong voice for the district’s interests and reliably represent its traditionally conservative leanings in Congress.
Campaign Strategy and Path to Victory
For his third attempt at the District 6 seat, Buckner has been tirelessly campaigning to increase his name recognition across the sprawling district. He is appearing at local GOP events, meetings with community leaders, and various rallies to connect with voters.
A key part of Buckner’s strategy is maximizing turnout from the district’s conservative base by underscoring his traditional values and policy priorities. This includes targeted outreach to evangelical, veteran, and gun rights voter blocs his campaign identifies as supportive.
Given James Clyburn’s long incumbency and high name recognition, Buckner faces an uphill climb in the general election. He will need to win over independent and moderate voters dissatisfied with Democratic leadership. Convincing more Black voters to split their ticket will also be critical for Buckner’s odds.
To secure the Republican nomination, Buckner must first fend off potential primary challengers eager to take up the party’s banner after his previous losses. His campaign messaging highlights past experience, conservative credentials, and unique understanding of local needs.
Ultimately, Buckner’s path to victory requires higher Republican midterm turnout combined with a weakened Democratic performance. Unseating Clyburn remains difficult, but Buckner sees a possible opening. His 2024 run may be his best shot yet at realizing a dream of representing South Carolina in Congress.
Impact if Elected
If he succeeds in his underdog bid, Buckner’s election would end 30 years of Democratic control over the seat. It would provide Republicans one of their biggest district flips nationally in 2024.
Based on his stated policy priorities, Buckner would likely vote with the conservative bloc of the GOP on most major legislation before Congress. He would attempt to advance Republican bills on taxes, energy production, border security, gun rights, and restricting abortion access.
As a House freshman, Buckner would lack extensive influence. However, he could angle for positions on committees overseeing issues like agriculture, natural resources, small business, and transportation that affect his district.
More broadly, Buckner’s hypothetical election would signal a rightward shift for the district’s politics. After decades under Clyburn’s stewardship, the seat would now have one of the most conservative members of the House Republican caucus.
Duke Buckner brings a unique blend of professional expertise and political experience to his 2024 bid for South Carolina’s 6th District congressional seat. After coming up short in two prior runs, Buckner hopes the third time is the charm as he challenges longtime Democratic incumbent James Clyburn once again.
What is Duke Buckner’s background before politics?
Buckner worked for many years in legal and real estate professions in South Carolina. He was an attorney, teacher, real estate broker, and certified mediator before first running for office in 2020.
What Congressional seat is Buckner seeking in 2024?
Buckner is running for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The incumbent is Democrat James Clyburn, who Buckner unsuccessfully challenged in 2022 as well.
How did Buckner do in his two previous runs for Congress?
Buckner lost in the 2020 Republican Senate primary, finishing 4th place. In 2022, he was the GOP nominee for the District 6 House seat but lost the general election to Clyburn by 24 points.
What are Buckner’s main policy priorities and positions?
Buckner promotes conservative stances on issues like abortion, gun rights, immigration, healthcare, and tax reform. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and enact congressional term limits.
What are Buckner’s key endorsements for the 2024 race?
So far Buckner has received endorsements from a few Republican state legislators and grassroots conservative groups. He may garner more high-profile GOP support if he wins the primary.