LEON STAVRINAKIS PUMMELED IN CHARLESTON MAYORAL RACE
Fifth-term S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (a.k.a. “Short Stack”) had an impossible decision to make in his two-week runoff election against businessman John Tecklenburg for mayor of Charleston.
After surrendering his frontrunner status following an avalanche of negative attacks from the race’s third-place finisher, local nonprofit director Ginny Deerin, Stavrinakis was edged by Tecklenburg on the first ballot on November 3. And with Deerin throwing her support behind Tecklenburg during the runoff (which was held because no candidate received a majority of votes the first go-round), “Short Stack” was suddenly facing the longest of odds.
Stavrinakis had a decision to make: Should he continue running a positive campaign that would guarantee him a second-place finish? Or should he roll the dice and launch negative ads against Tecklenburg? Obviously he chose option “B” – going negative – but there was one major problem with this strategy.
In defending himself against negative attacks during the first round of the race, Stavrinakis went out of his way to condemn the practice of negative campaigning.
“In Charleston, we don’t build others up by knocking others down,” he said in one of his response ads.
Not surprisingly, Tecklenburg seized on this glaringly obvious hypocrisy. In fact he cut a devastating ad using Stavrinakis’ own words against him (while simultaneously deflecting attention from his own lack of consistency on other issues).
The result? A resounding Tecklenburg victory. With 97.8 percent of precincts reporting, Tecklenburg received 13,513 votes (57.5 percent) to Stavrinakis 9,986 votes (42.5 percent).
That’s a butt-whomping …
Of course we’re hard-pressed to think of anything Stavrinakis and his team (which included Democratic all-star consultants Lachlan McIntosh and Tyler Jones) could have done differently over the last two weeks of this race.
Faced with the ultimate “lose-lose” scenario, they lost. Big.
As a result, Tecklenburg becomes Charleston’s first new mayor in more than forty years – replacing Joe Riley. Meanwhile Stavrinakis will limp back to Columbia, S.C. in January 2016 to complete his current term in the S.C. General Assembly.