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Charleston Mayoral Election: Runoff Ahead

Incumbent finishes second in initial round of voting … will face first-place challenger on November 21.

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Polls in Charleston, South Carolina closed at 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday evening, with the outcome of the Holy City’s 2023 mayoral election fervently tabulated by poll workers. The result? This six-way mayoral contest is now headed for a head-to-head runoff between the top two candidates after no one claimed a majority of ballots in the first round of voting.

The race’s strongest contenders were former state representative and real estate developer William Cogswell, incumbent mayor John Tecklenburg and Clay Middleton – a combat veteran and longtime aide to U.S. congressman Jim Clyburn. Middleton secured the endorsements of Clyburn as well as former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Jaime Harrison, but it wasn’t enough to propel him into the runoff.

Here are the latest results …

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WILLIAM COGSWELL – 11,101 (37 percent) Runoff
JOHN TECKLENBURG* – 9,725 (32 percent) Runoff

CLAY MIDDLETON – 5,437 (18 percent)
PETER SHAHID – 2,457 (8 percent)
MIKA GADSDEN – 1,052 (3 percent)
DEBRA GAMMONS – 439 (1 percent)

*Incumbent

Cogswell and Tecklenburg will face each other on November 21, 2023. While he has plenty of ground to make up, the incumbent is undefeated in runoff races – defeating state representative Leon Stavrinakis in 2015 to win the office and besting city councilman Mike Seekings in 2019 to win a second term.

Tecklenburg has said this would be his final term in office. He followed longtime Charleston mayor Joe Riley in office in early 2016. Riley served as mayor of the Holy City from 1975-2016.

FITSNews’s full breakdown of the current race can be found here.

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A Democrat, Tecklenburg was hobbled by the presence of multiple other viable Democratic candidates in this officially “non-partisan” field – whereas Cogswell ran without meaningful conservative opposition.

Will Cogswell’s supporters turn out for him again in two weeks? And can Tecklenburg unify the Democratic vote that was so badly splintered during the first round of voting?

The answers to those questions will determine who serves as Charleston’s next mayor …

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As the results began to solidify, Cogswell told his supporters “it looks like about seventy percent of Charleston is looking for some change in the direction of our city.”

“We’re going to need you to come back out in two weeks,” Cogswell implored.

Tecklenburg also addressed his backers, touting his record of bringing $800 million in federal money to the city while criticizing Cogswell for “wanting to throw that out the window.”

Tecklenburg also welcomed supporters of the other campaigns to “Team Teck.”

FITSNews will provide continued coverage of the Charleston mayoral contest as voters prepare to take to the polls again in two weeks …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.

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