Outside of the 1st District, Tuesday’s midterm elections concluded with only a few surprises for South Carolina. Here are just a few of my thoughts in taking a look at what changed and what didn’t on Election Day.
Smith failed to break through in what was a ‘change’ year elsewhere.
Amid Democratic gov candidate momentum in nearby Florida and Georgia and controversies over ongoing ethics entanglements, the V.C. Summer nuclear plant boondoggle, and continued inaction over education reform in Columbia, incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster pretty easily skated in his bid to win his first full term. Part of the reason? His challenger, incumbent state Rep. James Smith has also been in Columbia for a while too, making any ‘outsider’ claims a tough angle of attack.
Still, Smith’s run at statewide office earned him more support (45 percent) than Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s second time around in 2014 did (41 percent) during Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election bid. (Sheheen earned 47 percent in 2010.)
Other statewide elections:
The rest of the Democratic ticket also failed to capture voters’ attention.
The only other statewide contest that seemed like it could have gone higher profile was probably the attorney general race. Incumbent Alan Wilson, currently recused from a state investigation into political corruption while also working as the state’s top prosecutor, managed to handily defeat Constance Anastopoulo by more than 12 points.
Cunningham overcame significant disadvantage to turn SC-1 blue
Just to have a shot at flipping a longtime Republican district, Cunningham had to overcome the disadvantage inherent in a district that’s drawn to defend a Republican seat in the state delegation.
SC-5 Democrat Archie Parnell dropped to incumbent Rep. Ralph Norman by nearly 20 percent.
Parnell’s campaign went off the tracks over the summer when he confessed to an allegation of domestic violence in the 1980s that was detailed in divorce papers. But even as national Democrats skewered Republicans for supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh despite claims of sexual assault against him, S.C. Democrats including Congressman Jim Clyburn and state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter continued to support Parnell. On Tuesday, just over 100,000 voters voted for him against Norman.
Local races in Charleston:
Two Democrats flipped incumbent Republican House districts in suburban Charleston.
Political newcomers JA Moore and Krystle Simmons each won their races. Moore, the half-brother of Emanuel victim Myra Thompson, unseated District 15 incumbent Rep. Samuel Rivers, Jr., the only African-American Republican in the state legislature.
Also a first-time candidate, Simmons, a Boeing engineering planner, unseated incumbent Republican Rep. David Crosby in District 117.
No changes on Charleston County Council
Several local county council races were unopposed, but those who did face opposition won.
Irv Condon survived challenge
Judge Irv Condon was re-elected after getting a bit of a scare from former magistrate Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley.
The complete Charleston Coalition for Kids’ slate was elected.
The well-funded marketing push to re-elect incumbents for Charleston County school board seems to have worked against an energetic “Flip the Board” challenge from local education activists. Jake Rambo fell about 2,000 votes short of winning a seat.
Michael Miller will leave the school board to become register of deeds.
School board will get one more new rep after Democrat Michael Miller was elected to be register of deeds. The Charleston County legislative delegation will appoint someone to assume the remaining two years of his term.