The Wade Hampton statue and South Carolina Statehouse are seen at sunset on Feb. 24, 2022. | Photo by Travis Bell/Statehouse Carolina

South Carolina Republicans picked up seven S.C. House seats in this week’s elections to dominate the chamber like never before. In the 2023 legislative session, Republicans will hold 88 seats, compared to 36 seats occupied by Democrats. Democrats last held the majority in the early 1990s. 

“The election results are disappointing for Democrats,” said Nick Sottille, executive director of the S.C. House Democratic Caucus. “We had many great candidates who just lacked the resources they needed to win.”

The party’s lone House bright spot was a single seat it flipped when Democratic candidate Heather Bauer got 50.7% of the vote against longtime Columbia moderate Republican Kirkman Finlay.  

“Bauer’s victory over an entrenched incumbent shows that Democrats can continue to flip seats in suburban areas,” Sottille said. “She made her race a referendum on abortion and she won.”

Republicans, however, steamrolled the election by flipping five seats and picking up candidates in three other seats that were gerrymandered to favor GOP candidates. Click here to see election results. Among the flipped seats were:

  • House 12 (Greenwood-McCormick counties): Republican Daniel Gibson garnered 53% of the vote to beat longtime Democratic Rep. Anne Parks.
  • House 64 (Clarendon-Sumter): Republican Fawn Pedalino polled 55% to beat freshman Rep. Kimberly Johnson.
  • House 116 (Charleston-Colleton): Newcomer Mat Leber captured a narrow win with 52% of the vote against freshman Rep. Chardale Murray.
  • House 117 (Berkeley): GOP candidate Jordan Pace got 64% of the vote to beat Rep. Krystle Matthews, who also lost a U.S. Senate race to incumbent Republican Tim Scott.
  • House 122 (Hampton-Jasper): Republican Bill Hager got 54% of the vote to beat Rep. Shedron Williams.

The GOP also picked up three seats redrawn this year with new census data to favor Republicans:  

  • House 61 (Horry Co.): Carla Shuessler, 69% of the vote.
  • House 66 (York): David O’Neal, 58%.
  • House 80 (Charleston): Kathy Landing, 63%.

“While Democrats lost ground in rural areas, I am confident we can come back in two years and win seats back,” Sottile said. 

To do so, however, observers said there may need to be a shakeup at the state party. Comments swirling through social media indicated rank-and-file loyal Democrats were losing faith with the party’s leadership and that it might be in for a tough time before the next election. 


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City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.