Judd Larkins emerged in 2022 as an underdog Democratic candidate seeking election to Congress in the deeply red state of South Carolina. While Larkins ultimately came up short in his bid to unseat the Republican incumbent, his spirited campaign shed light on this political newcomer and his vision for representing South Carolina in Washington.
Background and Early Life
Judd Larkins was born in Greenwood, South Carolina in 1987. He was raised in a middle-class family and attended local public schools, where he was an honor roll student and standout athlete. After graduating high school, Larkins left South Carolina to attend Clemson University, returning to his home state after earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2012.
Larkins continued his education at the University of Cambridge in England, drawn to the historic university’s master’s program in finance and entrepreneurship. He earned his graduate degree in 2019, gaining valuable knowledge about business management and startups. Larkins’ time abroad exposed him to new cultures and viewpoints.
Early Career and Business Ventures
Armed with his business degrees, Larkins returned to South Carolina intent on revitalizing the economy of some of the state’s more rural communities. He started several small businesses focused on technology, retail, and hospitality. His ventures created dozens of local jobs and reinforced Larkins’ understanding of the economic challenges facing South Carolinians.
Entry Into Politics
As a business owner, Larkins grew frustrated with partisan gridlock in Washington and what he saw as politicians’ lack of action on critical issues. In 2021, he announced he would challenge incumbent Republican Joe Wilson for South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District seat. Larkins argued the district needed a representative who would fight for working families, not partisan interests.
2022 Congressional Campaign
Larkins ran an energetic grassroots campaign defined by non-stop retail politics, visiting every community in the district. He advocated for health care reform, investments in education and jobs, term limits for members of Congress, and increased availability of broadband internet access. Larkins also passionately promoted reproductive rights.
Campaign Platform and Positions
Larkinscampaigned on a platform of improving access to health care, bolstering education and job training,repairinginfrastructure,preserving Medicare and Social Security,reforming the tax code to benefit the middle class, safeguarding the environment, reducing gun violence, and protecting civil rights for minorities and LGBTQ Americans. He voiced opposition to restrictions on abortion rights and argued in favor of term limits, campaign finance reform, and automatic voter registration.
Larkins lost to the Republican incumbent Wilson by a margin of 62% to 36% on November 8, 2022. Larkins won three of the district’s 14 counties but was unable to overcome Wilson’s advantages as the incumbent in this longtime GOP stronghold. However, Larkins did outperform President Biden’s 2020 showing in the district.
Aftermath and Analysis
Despite his defeat, Larkins said he was proud of the campaign he ran and vowed to stay involved in South Carolina politics. Analysts noted that Larkins overcame formidable odds by even making the race competitive as a Democrat in a securely red district. His performance suggested room for Democrats to gain ground in the future if demographic and political trends in the state continue to shift.
Future Political Aspirations
Larkins did not rule out another run for public office. Some have speculated he could seek a statewide office in South Carolina, while others think he may set his sights on a Congressional bid again down the road. At 36 years old in 2022, Larkins has plenty of time to mount another campaign. His strong run against the odds raised his profile as a rising political talent.
Larkins resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is an avid hunter and fisherman who also enjoys coaching youth sports in his spare time. Larkins attends New Horizon Baptist Church and serves on the boards of several local charities focused on poverty, education, and housing. He lives with his wife, a nurse practitioner, and their two young children.
Judd Larkins emerged as an intriguing new face in South Carolina politics following his spirited yet unsuccessful 2022 Congressional campaign. As a Democratic candidate, he forced a longtime GOP incumbent to actively campaign in a district drawn to elect Republicans. Larkins’ run exceeded expectations even in defeat. His background as a small business owner shaped his moderate positions. Moving forward, Larkins’ performance demonstrated his potential to become a political force in South Carolina if he seeks elected office again.
Judd Larkins may not have won his bid for Congress in 2022, but his underdog campaign leaves him well positioned for a potential political comeback in South Carolina. Larkins impressed many with his centrist message, grassroots work ethic, and stronger-than-expected showing against the Republican incumbent. Don’t be surprised if this energetic young Democrat makes waves in the Palmetto State again soon.
Q: Where is Judd Larkins from?
A: Judd Larkins was born, raised, and still resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He briefly left the state for college and graduate school but returned to launch his business career and run for Congress in his home district.
Q: What issues did Judd Larkins focus on in his campaign?
A: Larkins prioritized health care reform, investments in education and economic opportunities for workers, term limits for Congress, and increased access to broadband internet. He also promoted reproductive rights.
Q: Who did Judd Larkins face in the 2022 election?
A: Larkins challenged incumbent Republican Joe Wilson for South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Wilson has held the seat since 2001.
Q: What is Judd Larkins’ political background?
A: Larkins was a political newcomer when he ran for Congress in 2022. He has no previous elected experience but drew on his background as a small business owner and entrepreneur in the district.
Q: What is next for Judd Larkins after his 2022 loss?
A: Larkins has not ruled out running for public office again. He could seek a statewide position in South Carolina or potentially mount another Congressional campaign in the future. At just 36, he has time on his side.