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The Advocates: A Comprehensive Overview of the State and Local Elections

A Look at the State Elections

Portion written by George Ramsey, Senior Director of Legislative Relations

SC Governor

No surprises here as to who was elected, but the margins for the Republicans were historic in many cases. With the expected easy victories for Governor McMaster and Senator Scott, the Democrats have now been shut out of the major statewide elected offices for 24 years.

Governor Henry McMaster (57.9%)             
Joe Cunningham (40.9%)              

Since 2000, the ceiling for Republicans running for Governor was 55%: Mark Sanford received 55.1% of the vote in 2006 and Nikki Haley received 55.9% in 2014. The only re-elections that were higher were Dick Riley (D-Greenville) in 1982 and Carroll Campbell (R-Greenville) in 1990. Both were at around 69% for their re-election bids.

Most people in the final days were predicting a 55/45 or 54/46 split, which had to be very disappointing for Joe Cunningham who might be the best, most moderate, candidate the Democrats have put up since Jim Hodges in 1998.

What does this mean for the Chamber?McMaster has long been a strong friend to the business community when it comes to economic development and other regulatory or statutory issues. He has spoken about a number of our priorities over the years in his State of the State addresses to include cutting taxes, shoring up the pension system, joint and several liability reforms. Cunningham probably would have supported many of those as well given the conservative positions he had to take in the campaign. When it comes to some of the social issues the GOP will surely push with their new majorities, McMaster will be strongly supportive. We expect status quo in that office moving forward.

Superintendent of Education
Ellen Weaver (55.4%)                     
Lisa Ellis (42.9%)

The endorsement of popular incumbent Molly Spearman probably iced this one for Weaver, though the margin was big enough that she was probably well on her way to winning before the endorsement. Weaver might have hit the high-water mark for GOP candidates for this office – exceeded only by Molly Spearman’s very pro-public education candidacy in 2014. With Weaver’s election, the GOP will have held this seat for six of the last nine state elections.

What does this mean for the Chamber? She will be good for workforce initiatives and will be a very sympathetic ear on Teacher Pay Bands and other reform proposals we will push. Ellis and her group fought the Chamber on nearly all of the education reforms we worked on over the past five years, with the exception of higher teacher pay, so any further education reforms would have been dead in the water if she had won.

US House of Representatives
District 1
Nancy Mace (56.39%)                      
Annie Andrews (42.46%)                 

Congresswoman Mace cruised to victory on Tuesday night for her second term in office. While control of the House remains up in the air with votes still being counted out west, the first district was thought by national republicans a safe seat. 

What does this mean for the Chamber? Congresswoman Mace will continue to have an open-door policy for Chamber policies at the federal level. We look forward to our continued work with Mace over the next two years. 

District 6 
Jim Clyburn (62%)                        
Duke Buckner  (38%)

Congressman Clyburn easily won his 16th term in Congress last night. While we wait for the remaining votes around the country to be counted, and with control of the House still in the balance, it isn’t clear what leadership role Clyburn will have next year. 

What does this mean for the Chamber? Clyburn’s staff has been very receptive to the Chamber staff and positions over the last several years. We hope to continue to maintain those relationships as we address policy issues next year. 

State House of Representatives
If there was a red wave anywhere, it was in South Carolina. The GOP and Speaker Smith started the night with an 81-43 advantage (one shy of two-thirds). There are still a few races that will be disputed, but the GOP should wind up with 88-36. Only two or three of those district shifts are because of redistricting. Some were straight demographic shifts, and another two or three were African-American Democrats getting beat in a long-held Democratic district.

We are proud to share that all our Chamber Champions of Business that sought re-election won their race. I’m not going to get into all of the races, but here are a few of the highlights from Tuesday night:

Districts 116, 117, 122 (R Flips)
Democratic incumbents Chardale Murray (D-116), Krystle Matthews (D-117) and Shedron Williams (D-122) all hit a buzzsaw of new development, redistricting and turnout in these traditionally Democratic districts. Rep. Williams received some GOP precincts from the more senior Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg that sealed his loss. Rep. Mathews, who ran for US Senate against Tim Scott and for SC House, had turned off the residents of several new developments in her district. Rep. Murray reportedly “just got outworked” by a well-funded GOP candidate who had been campaigning for nearly a year. 

So, what does this mean for the House and for the Chamber? The S.C. House will trend much more conservative, especially when we look at several of the primary results in the Upstate where more moderate Republicans were beaten by challenges from the right. With 36 members, and 16 senior Democrats already serving on Ways and Means and the Judiciary committees, there will be only 4-5 Democrats on the remaining committees. Since David Wilkins took over as Speaker in 1994, the Medical, Municipal and Military Affairs Committee (commonly called the 3M Committee) has always been held by Democrats. Now, there probably won’t be enough Democrats left in the House to hold that committee unless Speaker Smith packs all of the Democrats there, which could mean virtually no Democratic representation on Education & Public Works and Agriculture & Natural Resources. Five of the Democrats on the 3M committee lost their elections to Republicans.

The Democrats in the House will face major uphill odds now since they won’t have enough members to stop cloture votes or really get in the way of anything. The Democratic leaders will have to lean on their relationships with the more moderate, pragmatic GOP leadership to influence legislation.

A Look at the Local Elections

Portion written by Bailey Vincett, Manager of Local Government Affairs

Overall, 92% of Chamber PAC endorsed candidates won their race. This was one of the PAC’s best election years to date and it would not be possible without our PAC contributors. Our region saw voter turnout at about 53%, which was a little higher than turnout across the state at 51%.

Charleston County (R Flip)
The Charleston County Council majority flipped Republican on Tuesday night. Incumbents Herb Sass (R), Teddie Pryor (D) and Jenny Honeycutt (R) all won their races. The council will welcome new members Larry Kobrovsky and Joe Boykin in January. The County will elect a new Council Chair when the newly-elected council members are sworn in. 

What does this mean for the Chamber? The Chamber has a great relationship with many of the incumbent council members and we look forward to welcoming the new members to council and learning where we can collaborate on shared policy priorities with the new chair of council.

Berkeley County
Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb handedly won his bid for re-election as did Mayor Habib and unopposed Mayor Rainwater. The County will welcome two new council members, Marshall West and Amy Stern in January. The Republicans still hold the majority on council. Goose Creek will welcome back incumbents Jerry Tekac and Debra Green-Fletcher as well as newcomer Christopher Harmon. Voters overwhelmingly supported the continuation of the penny sales tax for the County’s transportation and infrastructure needs. 

What does this mean for the Chamber? Supervisor Cribb, Mayor Habib and Mayor Rainwater have all proven to be great leaders for the business community. With their re-election, we are confident that the open line of communication will continue. The Chamber was a big supporter of the transportation penny sales tax and is looking forward to seeing work begin on these crucial road projects. 

Dorchester County 
The incumbents in Dorchester County all held onto their seats and congratulations to David Chinnis, Jay Byars and Harriet Holman. Newcomer Rita May Ranck won the battle for an open seat in District 3. Dorchester County Council remains in complete Republican control. The continuation of the County’s penny sales tax passed with nearly 60% of the vote. Dorchester voters are committed to improving the County’s transportation and infrastructure needs.

What does this mean for the Chamber? The Chamber will continue to have a great relationship with the County Council to advance our shared policy priorities. Rita May was a PAC endorsed candidate and we believe she will be a strong voice for the business community on council in addition to the already strong incumbent voices. The Chamber was a strong supporter of the transportation sales tax continuation and is particularly happy to see the referendum pass with funding for mass transit included. 

We will continue to keep you apprised of the latest updates in our region and state. Have a great

Posted on
November 11th 2022
Written by
Madison Beard