Televangelist pastor Mark Burns, who acted as a surrogate for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, on Thursday announced that he will run for the seat Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) will vacate when he retires this year.
Burns rose to prominence during Trump’s 2016 campaign as one of his most vocal African American supporters, and has a history of minor controversies. In fall 2016, he issued public apologies twice in one week — once for posting a cartoon that depicted Hillary Clinton in blackface and again for exaggerating his resume on his church’s website after CNN pointed out the discrepancies during an interview.
Burns announced his candidacy in a video where he highlighted his closeness to Trump as a member of the President’s faith advisory council and described himself as “an emerging force in the conservative movement.”
The video also highlighted Burns’ inflammatory speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. A voice-over in the video claims that Burns “defied the elitist liberal establishment when he declared that ‘all lives matter.’”
Burns is one of at least five other Republican candidates vying for Gowdy’s seat, which opened up when Gowdy announced that he plans to leave Washington, D.C. after eight years and will return to South Carolina to resume his law practice. The Republican primaries for South Carolina’s 4th congressional district will take place in June.
Watch Burns’ campaign announcement below: