About the only thing you can probably take to the bank in this year’s crazy election is that almost no one really knows what’s going to happen. And there are two big reasons for that:
- Mum’s the word. Supporters of former GOP President Donald Trump often aren’t as open about their preferences with pollsters as in the past. In turn, pollsters are pretty worried they’ll be very wrong at predicting state and national levels. Why all of the confusion? There are fewer landline phones. People also are screening calls more often or just not answering questions. And there is a plethora of new polling techniques that are being thrown like birdshot at the election targets in the desperate attempt to figure out what’s happening. Bottom line: It’s hard to predict elections with limited or suspect data.
- Roevember or red surge? Another big unknown is a predicted surge in women voters outraged over the June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion. But will it actually happen? Some predict a “Roevember” vote of women opposing GOP candidates in waves — just as GOP voters predict a Republican red tidal wave of voters who support Trump and think the man who beat him in 2020 — current President Joe Biden — is a walking nightmare. Bottom line: Because it’s unclear who will turnout, it’s even harder to predict the election. A race that you think might be a no-brainer could actually get turned on end if mad women or mad Trumpers turn out more than expected.
So as you’re watching the midterm election returns next Tuesday, it might be good to keep these two things in mind — and two more trends:
- Tuesday’s early numbers will tend to favor Democrats because a lot more of them seem to take advantage of early voting.
- Republicans across the state and nation likely will tend to catch up later Tuesday night as in-person voters’ ballots are blended into the results because they, election observers say, tend to vote more in-person on election day.
So hold on and buckle up for what is going to be a wild election year. If you want to avoid the back-and-forth emotional tussel of election night, you might want to do what President Harry Truman did in 1948 (remember the “Dewey wins!” headline) — eat a ham sandwich, go to bed early and read about it on Wednesday morning.
Here’s a look at the Lowcountry landscape from federal elections to school board.
The most prominent Lowcountry federal race of the season pits freshman GOP Rep. Nancy Mace against Democratic challenger Dr. Annie Andrews. In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of punching and counterpunching in this contest for the First Congressional District, which was slightly gerrymandered to favor Mace by the S.C. General Assembly. And with Mace as an incumbent with a growing national profile, she’s slightly favored. But Andrews’ aggressive calling out of Mace on abortion and gun control may push her ahead.
In two other federal races, longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of the Sixth Congressional District and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of Charleston are widely favored to return to Washington.
At the top of the ticket is incumbent Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who at 75 is one of the oldest governors in the country. While McMaster is desperately trying to not talk about his age, Democratic challenger Joe Cunningham is trying to make the election about age, abortion, marijuana, sports betting, income taxes and just about anything else that might stick. While internal Democratic polls have shown Cunningham to be in striking distance, there’s not much talk of them lately, indicating that McMaster is likely to squeak out a win in Republican-friendly South Carolina.
Perhaps the most consequential race of the cycle is for state superintendent of education, which pits veteran Republican wonk Ellen Weaver against Democratic teacher and advocate Lisa Ellis. About the only thing that’s hit the press in this election are a few stories about whether Weaver got a master’s degree that is required (she announced in October that she got it, reportedly finishing 11 courses in rocket time of six months). With the GOP holding this seat for a few years, Weaver is favored.
With GOP incumbents serving as the rest of the state’s constitutional officers — and with Democrats offering little or no campaign activity — look for smooth reelections for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, Secretary of State Mark Hammond and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis.
S.C. House candidates
With 2022 being an off-year election, no state Senate seats are up for grabs. But each of the 124 S.C. House seats are. Due to gerrymandering by the GOP House, it’s a foregone conclusion that the chamber will remain in Republican hands. Virtually one-third of House seats in the Upstate heavily favor Republican candidates. When combined with gerrymandered seats in the rest of the state, look for the GOP to control at least 80 of the state’s House seats in 2023 — just as they do now.
Meanwhile in the Lowcountry, incumbent House members generally are favored to win contested seats. Look for these legislators to return to Columbia: Democrats J.A. Moore (House 15); Deon Tedder (House 109); Spencer Wetmore (House 115); and Leon Stavrinakis (House 119); as well as Republicans Gil Gatch (House 94); and Joe Bustos (House 112).
Democrats reportedly are worried about reelection chances for S.C. Rep. Chardale Murray (House 116), who faces right-wing candidate Republican Matt Leber. Well-funded, he has a denigrating image (“Let’s Go Brandon”) on his website.
A newly-formed Charleston County seat is District 80 where veteran Republican Kathy Landing is running against Democratic candidate Donna Brown Newton. Given the fact that Mount Pleasant skews Republican and Landing outraised Newton by a 6-1 margin, the seat is expected to go GOP.
House District 110, which incumbent William Cogswell decided to vacate to run for Charleston mayor, is a mostly Charleston contest between Republican Tom Hartnett and Democratic nominee Ellis Roberts. Both have raised more than $80,000 in what has become a bitter race over abortion, education and guns. While the GOP has held the seat for a while, there’s a chance Roberts could flip it for the Democrats.
In House seat 114, Republican Gary Brewer has a slight money edge over the Democratic candidate, Michelle Brandt, but the seat is historically Republican. Three area incumbents have no November challenger: Republican Lee Hewitt (House 108); and Democrats Wendell Gilliard (House 111) and Marvin Pendarvis (House 113).
Contested Charleston County races
Two countywide races are on the ballot — probate judge and register of deeds. Incumbent Republican Probate Judge Irv Condon may be a little worried by Democratic challenger Tamara Cunningham Curry, who served as associate probate judge for 22 years. Condon raised about $175,000 for the general election, while Curry spent about $150,000 to win a primary and has remained competitive by raising $92,000 since June. It could be close. In the Deeds election, look for Karen Hollings, who won a June primary against incumbent Michael Miller, to take the seat over Republican Bob McIntyre. Hollings has raised $135,000 total, some 13 times more than McIntyre.
Incumbency likely is an advantage in two contested county council races. Look for Anna B. Johnson (District 8) and Jenny Costa Honeycutt (District 9) to win. County Council incumbents Herb Sass (District 1) and Teddie Pryor (District 5) and newcomer Larry Kobrovsky (District 3) have no challengers.
Charleston County School Board of Trustees
School board races, normally staid, have been rife with dark campaign money since 2020, causing many candidates to complain about the undue influence of negative — and often hostile and untrue — campaign mailers attacking them. This year, candidates are running for the first time in single-member districts, meaning you can vote for a candidate in a seat that corresponds to your county council district. To learn more about candidates, you can find the City Paper’s 2022 Meet the Candidates webpage and connect to those who completed our candidate surveys.
Those running this year include:
- District 1 (Mount Pleasant): Doyle Costello, Keith Grybowski.
- District 2 (East Cooper): Grace Bouldin Cowan, Seana J. Flynn, Sarah Shad Johnson, Ed Kelley, E.J. Milligan, Elizabeth Moffly.
- District 3 (Charleston-Mount Pleasant): Chris Collins, Pam McKinney, Ashley Peele, Thomas Ravenel.
- District 4 (Charleston-North Charleston): Kevin D. Hollinshead Sr., Courtney Waters.
- District 5 (West Ashley-North Charleston): Charlotte M. Bailey, Melissa Couture, Vivian Sheppard Pettigrew.
- District 6 (West Ashley): Lee Runyon, Eric Thorne, Samuel Whatley II.
- District 7 (West Ashley): Joy Brown, Jen Mieras, Sydney van Bulck,
- Leah A. Whatley.
- District 8 (Ravenel-Johns Island): Travis Bedson, Helen Davis-Frazier, Darlene Dunmeyer, Doris Johnson.
- District 9 (James-Folly-Kiawah islands): Forrest Bjork, Graham Smith, Carol Tempel.
For more information or to preview your ballot, visit SCVotes.gov.
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