A Democrat has entered the race for South Carolina House District 99 (map) – the seat vacated two weeks ago via the resignation of former S.C. House majority leader Jimmy Merrill (news of which broke exclusively on this website).
Merrill stepped down one day prior to pleading guilty to one count of misconduct in office in connection with #ProbeGate – an ongoing, multi-jurisdictional investigation into public corruption in state government. He was suspended last December after being indicted in connection with the investigation.
Cindy Boatwright – a mental health counselor from Mount Pleasant, S.C. – told The Daniel Island News this week that she will seek this House seat. According to her, she intends to be “a strong voice for change.”
“Don’t dismiss me just because I am a Democrat,” Boatwright told the paper. “As I have been talking to people about my beliefs, I have had many people tell me that while they have never voted for a Democrat before, they will vote for me. Come meet me. Read my web page. Think about what this state needs. I don’t think we can afford to stagnate with the same old ideas. We need to move South Carolina forward to be better and stronger.”
Boatwright recently returned from a national candidate training event in Atlanta, Georgia. This event was sponsored by Emerge America, an organization devoted to electing more female Democrats.
Of interest, Emerge America receives support from Onward Together, an uber-liberal political action committee formed from the ashes of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s failed candidacy.
(A.k.a. what happened).
This group exists to “advance progressive values,” including “welcoming immigrants and refugees” to America.
In breaking down this race last month, we noted that Democrats were likely to field a candidate – but we suspected they would go with someone a bit more moderate and mainstream than this.
On the GOP side, two candidates are officially in the race with two more likely to jump in soon (as we noted in this recent preview).
Mount Pleasant, S.C. undertaker and town councilman Mark M. Smith – a favorite of former governor Nikki Haley – announced his candidacy for this seat in mid August. Two weeks ago Shawn Pinkston – a Daniel Island attorney – jumped into the fray.
Local real estate agent Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of the Citadel and a former co-owner of this website, is also expected to announce her intentions soon. Sources close to Mace (below) tell us she is “strongly considering” mounting a bid.
(Click to view)
Along with Mace, Berkeley County, S.C. councilman Joshua Whitley is mentioned as a possible frontrunner for this seat, however it’s not immediately clear whether Whitley will run.
If he doesn’t, we think Mace would have the early edge on the competition …
Another name we’ve heard mentioned in relation to this seat is Chris Staubes, another local attorney and a current member of the Charleston County school board. Supporters of Staubes have reportedly been making fundraising calls on his behalf in recent weeks – and he is likely to jump into the race soon, we’re told.
Filing for this seat officially at 12:00 p.m. EDT tomorrow (September 15) and closes at noon on Saturday, September 23. Partisan primary elections will be held on November 14 with runoffs (if necessary) scheduled for November 28. The special election itself will be held on January 16, 2018 – meaning Merrill’s successor will be “in the House” for the upcoming 2018 session of the S.C. General Assembly.
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Banner via Travis Bell Photography