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SC Politics

Charleston Senate Race: Less Than A Dozen Votes Separate Democratic Rivals

Down to the wire in North Charleston …

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A low-turnout special election primary for a staunchly Democratic Senate seat in the South Carolina Lowcountry went down to the wire on Tuesday evening.

According to the S.C. Election Commission (SCVotes.gov), state representative Deon Tedder appeared to have narrowly defeated fellow state representative Wendell Gilliard in a primary runoff battle for the heavily gerrymandered S.C. Senate District 42 (.pdf). With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Tedder had received 2,092 votes (or 50.13 percent of all ballots cast) compared to Gilliard’s 2,081 votes (49.87 percent).

Because that margin was well within the one percent threshold, it triggers a mandatory recount in this election – which many viewed as a proxy war between powerful U.S. minority whip Jim Clyburn (who endorsed Tedder) and up-and-coming Democratic powerbroker Bakari Sellers (who backed Gilliard).

Sellers tweeted his congratulations to Tedder late Tuesday evening, crediting Gilliard for running a “hard fought race.”

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Assuming the recount winds up confirming the initial results, Tedder would advance to a special election against Republican nominee Rosa Kay on November 7, 2023. He would be the overwhelming favorite in such a race.

Two weeks ago, Gilliard nearly won this seat outright in the initial round of voting – leading a three-way field with 46.63 percent of ballots cast. However, because he did not receive a majority of votes, he advanced to a head-to-head matchup against Tedder – who drew 38.59 percent of the initial ballots.

The battle between Tedder and Gilliard was prompted by the May 11, 2023 resignation of former senator Marlon Kimpson, who took a trade post in the administration of U.S. president Joe Biden. Kimpson – a local attorney – was elected in October 2013 – winning a special election for the seat after former senator Robert Ford resigned amidst an ethics scandal.

Like Clyburn, Kimpson endorsed Tedder – who, if elected in November, would become the youngest member of the Senate at the age of 33.

Turnout in the runoff election was anemic – with only 4,184 people (or 7.94 percent of the district’s 52,721 voters) bothering to show up at the polls.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Dylan Nolan)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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