While the elder Turner leans Democratic, Teddy Turner is running as a Republican in a crowded race for an open South Carolina congressional seat created by a U.S. Senate appointment.
“My dad asked, `What’s the minimum amount I can give because you’re a Republican?’” Teddy Turner, 49, said. “My dad has been asking for years, `How the heck did you become so conservative?’”
Teddy Turner is one of at least 10 Republicans and two Democrats running in the March 19 party primaries in this coastal district.
The contest has already attracted former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican seeking to make a political comeback after an affair with an Argentine woman derailed his career, and comedian Steven Colbert’s sister, who is vying for the Democratic nomination.
The younger Turner, during an interview with the Associated Press in his home overlooking a marsh in this bedroom community near Charleston, described how his conservative views were decades in the making.
One of five Turner children and Ted Turner’s son by his first marriage to Julia Gale Nye, Robert Edward Turner IV graduated from South Carolina’s military college, The Citadel, then worked in the then-Soviet Union with CNN, the cable network his dad founded.
Later Teddy Turner held positions both with Turner Broadcasting System and Country Music Television before returning to Charleston 13 years ago. He ran several businesses and worked with underprivileged children at the South Carolina Maritime Foundation. Now he teaches economics at the Charleston Collegiate School, a private school near Charleston.
Working for CNN, Turner said he saw firsthand a busted centralized economy and experienced socialized medicine after being in a Soviet hospital following a serious traffic accident.
“That is scary and we never need to get there,” said Turner, sitting in his home, where the walls are lined with sailing photos. He worries the United States is heading down the same road with the government trying to be everything for everybody.
What concerns him most is the federal budget deficit. He said he decided to enter the race after discussions about the issue with former U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, hearing his student’s questions about the state of the economy and looking into the eyes of his three young children and wondering what kind of nation they will inherit.
“That’s been a huge focus and what really pushed me over the edge,” he said. “There is a window of opportunity to talk common sense before it all starts to scatter and shatter. We have a short time to do that. The politicians are not getting it done.”
Scott, a Republican, was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Republican Jim DeMint resigned.
The 1st Congressional District extends from the sea islands northeast of Charleston southwest to the gated communities on the resort of Hilton Head Island. It leans strongly Republican _ it’s been decades since it last sent a Democrat to Congress _ and Sanford held the seat for three terms before he was elected governor.
Making his first political race, Turner casts himself as a newcomer, not a career politician, and one who is willing to talk with those across the aisle in Congress about the nation’s troubled finances.