SC Politics

Charleston Mayoral Runoff Sees Endorsement Fireworks

Incumbent on the ropes in the Holy City …

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It’s not surprising to see Charleston, South Carolina’s mayoral election come down to a runoff. It happened in the last two elections. Incumbent mayor John Tecklenburg won both of those races – defeating state representative Leon Stavrinakis in 2015 and besting city councilman Mike Seekings in 2019 to win a second term.

Tecklenburg contends he’ll do it again – even though state representative/ real estate developer William Cogswell won a larger portion of the initial vote than any of Tecklenburg’s previous challengers, and argues this time will be different.

Tecklenburg’s optimism is bolstered by the endorsement of third-place finisher Clay Middleton, a decorated combat veteran and longtime aide to U.S. congressman Jim Clyburn. Countering that, Cogswell’s campaign has repeatedly pointed out that 68 percent of Charleston voters didn’t support Tecklenburg in the initial election – his lowest level support in a first election to date.

Here are the results from the first round of voting on November 7 …

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

CLAY MIDDLETON – 5,437 (18 percent) Endorsed Tecklenburg
PETER SHAHID – 2,457 (8 percent) Endorsed Cogswell
MIKA GADSDEN – 1,052 (3 percent) Endorsed Cogswell

*Incumbent

Those following the race weren’t surprised to see Middleton back Tecklenburg, or see former federal prosecutor Peter Shahid lend his support to Cogswell.

Things took an unexpected turn, though, when self-proclaimed progressive candidate Mika Gadsden – and Middleton campaign manager Angela Kouters – backed Cogswell, with both women claiming Tecklenburg’s dishonesty and character on the campaign trail should preclude him from winning another term.

This media outlet previously reported on Tecklenburg’s ham-handed use of former Republican attorney Butch Bowers to disingenuously tie Cogswell to the Moms for Liberty parental activist group.

(Click to View)

Charleston S.C. mayor John Tecklenburg at his campaign headquarters. (Facebook)

“This attempt to shift the public’s perception of Cogswell might have been more effective if a bevy of documents didn’t directly tie this dark money hit-job to Tecklenburg,” I noted.

Gadsden seemed to agree.

“I want to address a claim made by mayor Tecklenburg, that William Cogswell is an extremist, associated with Moms for Liberty,” she said. “As someone who has spent years as an activist fighting against hate and extremism, I can confidently say that William Cogswell is not an extremist. I believe in fairness, and it is essential to separate fact from baseless accusations in our political discourse.”

(Click to View)

(Via: William Cogswell/YouTube)

Moms for Liberty does not endorse candidates for mayoral races, and have explicitly denied having any ties to Cogswell’s candidacy. After Tecklenburg continued to claim Cogswell is endorsed by the group in this week’s Live 5 televised debate, the channel released a fact check report labeling his claims as “false.”

Gadsden’s defection highlights the challenge Tecklenburg could face in picking up votes from those of his own political party who saw this election as a referendum on him. Tecklenburg’s ability to win this race hinges on turning out as many of Middleton’s voters as possible.

Early voting is already underway, and traditional polling locations will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 Eligible residents need not have cast a ballot in the first race to vote in this election.

Count on FITSNews to provide continued coverage of this race …

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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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