South Carolina’s general election was held yesterday for all SC House seats, SC Constitutional officers and US congressional districts. The number of competitive races in SC was sparse, but there were some upsets across the state, including one Republican incumbent and five Democratic incumbents. Most notably, Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R), who represents parts of downtown Columbia, lost to Heather Bauer (D) who won with 51 percent of the vote. Greenwood’s longtime incumbent Rep. Anne Parks (D) lost to challenger Daniel Gibson (R). Representative Krystle Matthews (D) was challenged for her House seat by Jordan Pace (R) as she simultaneously ran for the US Senate against US Senator Tim Scott (R). Rep. Matthews lost both races last night.
The South Carolina Senate will not be elected until 2024.
Gov. Henry McMaster (R) faced a challenge from former 1st District Congressman Joe Cunningham (D) for governor but came out on top with 58% of the vote. This will be Governor McMaster’s last full term as governor, making him the longest-serving governor in the state with a ten-year term. Pamela Evette (R) has been reelected to a second and final term as lieutenant governor, as the lieutenant governor has been elected on a joint slate with the governor since 2018.
The most talked about general election race has been the race for superintendent of education to replace current superintendent Molly Spearman, who announced she would not run again last fall after eight years in office. service. Ellen Weaver, CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, beat out Lisa Ellis (D), an educator who founded the teacher advocacy group SC for ED. Weaver, a school choice supporter, beat Ellis by a margin of 55% to 43%.
Secretary of State Mark Hammond (R), Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers (R) and Treasurer Curtis Loftis (R) all faced challengers last night and won an additional term in their respective offices. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom (R) and Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) will also serve another term as they had no opposition.
Six incumbents lost their seats in the SC House of Representatives last night and will not return in January. In addition to Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R – Richland), Rep. Anne Parks (D – Greenwood) and Rep. Krystle Matthews (D – Berkeley), other losses include: Rep. Kimberly Johnson (D – Clarendon) who has lost to Fawn Pedalino (R); Rep. Chardale Murray (D – Charleston) who lost to Matt Leber (R); and Rep. Shedron Williams (D – Hampton) who lost to Bill Hager (R).
Thirteen members of the House have sought re-election this year – among the list are prominent and longtime members Speaker Jay Lucas and House Ways and Means Speaker Gary Simrill. Cody Mitchell (R) was the only name on the ballot and will fill the open seat of President Lucas in District 65, which includes Chesterfield, Darlington, Kershaw and Lancaster counties. Heath Sessions (R) won and was the only name on the ballot for York County District 46, which is currently held by House Ways and Means chairman Gary Simrill. Businessman Jay Kilmartin (R) took on John Davis (L) and won the Open House seat around Lake Murray last night which opened after Rep. Chip Huggins announced his retirement more early this year. David Vaughan (R) was the only name on the ballot and will fill the vacant seat in District 27, the Greenville district currently held by Rep. Garry Smith. Mike Neese (R) faced Aaron McKinney (I) and won in District 44; the seat previously held by Rep. Sandy McGarry.
Republicans won eight more seats last night, bringing the House roster to 88 Republicans and 36 Democrats. The SC House membership will include 27 new members.
Control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate was up for grabs, and Democrats performed better than expected. The fate of the House and Senate is still up in the air, as the big races have yet to be called and could take a few more days. SC’s most competitive general election race was between 1st Congressional District Rep. Nancy Mace (R) and Annie Andrews (D). Rep. Mace won with over 56% of the vote and will serve another term. All seven SC Congress seats were up for re-election this year and all incumbents will serve another term except for SC House District 7. Congressman Tom Rice (R), who was targeted by former President Donald Trump for voting to impeach him after the Capitol riots, was defeated by Representative Russell Fry (R) in the primary. Rep. Fry faced an opponent yesterday, but came out on top and will be the next congressman from District 7.
US Senator Tim Scott (R) secured re-election to his second full term by beating SC Representative Krystle Matthews (D).
Statewide Voting Questions
SC voters were asked two questions at the polls yesterday about holding more money in the state’s general reserve fund in the coming years in the event of an economic downturn. Voters opted to have a larger emergency savings account and decided that the state could first dip into the capital reserve fund to avoid mid-year budget cuts for government agencies. ‘State.