A Lowcountry Republican state lawmaker will not seek another term in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2020. Mike Sotille of Isle of Palms, S.C. made the announcement to his hometown paper, The Moultrie News, on Monday – just two weeks before the filing period for legislative offices is set to open.
“It has been a privilege to be the voice of my constituents in Columbia,” Sottile told the paper.
Sotille, 71, has represented S.C. House District 112 (.pdf) since 2009. Prior to that he was mayor of Isle of Palms from 2001-2008 and before that he was a town councilman from 1990-2001.
In addition to creating an open election for his House seat, Sotille’s announcement also creates an opening on the influential S.C. House ways and means committee – which gets first crack at drafting the state budget each year. We expect both battles to be fiercely contested.
Sotille defeated Democrat Joe Preston by a healthy margin in 2018 – drawing 57.31 percent of the vote (12,210 ballots) compared to Preston’s 42.64 percent (9,084 ballots). That won him a sixth term in the legislature.
Unopposed in 2012 and 2014, Sotille handily beat back GOP primary opposition in 2016 and 2018 – drawing more than 76 percent of the vote in each primary election.
He was only seriously challenged once – in the 2010 GOP primary.
Our guess is this seat will draw a crowded Republican field – and perhaps even a crowded Democratic field, too, in light of the increasingly leftward bent of the South Carolina Lowcountry (and Charleston county in particular).
But this seat will not be an easy lift for Democrats …
District 112 includes Isle of Palms, Sullivans Island and parts of Mount Pleasant, S.C. In the 2016 general election, U.S. president Donald Trump won 54 percent of the vote in the district.
All 170 seats in the S.C. General Assembly (124 House seats and 46 Senate seats) are up for election this year – although as we have often pointed out very few of these races wind up being competitive.
Candidate filing for legislative seats opens at 12:00 p.m. EDT on March 16, 2020 and closes at the same time on March 30.
Partisan primary elections will be held on June 9, 2020 – with runoff elections held on June 23, 2020, if necessary (if no candidate receives a majority of votes in a partisan primary election in South Carolina, the two top vote-getters advance to a head-to-head matchup two weeks later).
Once major party nominees are selected (and any petition candidates are certified), the general election will take place on November 3, 2020.
As with all S.C. State House races, we look forward to turning over our open microphone to any of the candidates who decide to seek this seat …
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Banner: Columbia SC Photographer Travis Bell