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Stories about South Carolina

South Carolina sees the highest number of contested Republican primaries since at least 2012

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in South Carolina this year was March 30, 2022. Twenty-eight candidates are running for South Carolina’s seven U.S. House districts, including nine Democrats and 19 Republicans. That’s four candidates per district, more than the 2.86 candidates per district in 2020 and less than the 6.14 in 2018. 

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. South Carolina was apportioned seven districts, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
  • All incumbents are running for re-election, meaning there are no open seats this year. The only years to feature open seats between 2012 and 2022 were 2018, when the 4th district was open, and 2012, when the newly-drawn 7th district was open. 
  • There are two contested Democratic primaries this year, the lowest number since 2016, and four contested Republican primaries, the highest number since at least 2012.
  • Eight candidates — one Democrat and seven Republicans, including incumbent Rep. Tom Rice (R) — filed to run in the 7th district, more than in any other. That’s three less than the highest number of candidates who ran for a seat in 2020, when five candidates ran in the 1st district. 
  • There are three districts — the 2nd, the 3rd, and the 5th — where incumbents do not face primary challengers. 
  • One district — the 3rd — is guaranteed to Republicans because no Democrats filed. No districts are guaranteed to Democrats because no Republicans filed.

South Carolina and three other states — Maine, Nevada, and North Dakota — are holding primary elections on June 14. A primary candidate must win a majority of the vote in order to be declared the winner in South Carolina. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a June 28 runoff.

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Mike Reichenbach advances from Republican primary to South Carolina Senate general election

A special primary election was held for South Carolina State Senate District 31 on Jan. 25. Mike Reichenbach (R) advanced to the special general election and defeated Jay Jordan (R). 

The special general election is scheduled for March 29. The filing deadline passed on Dec. 11.

The special election was called after the seat became vacant due to the death of Hugh Leatherman (R) on Nov. 12. Hugh Leatherman served from 1981 to 2021. 

As of January 2022, 31 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. South Carolina has held 33 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2021.

Entering the special election, the South Carolina State Senate has 16 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 24 seats. South Carolina has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

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Three candidates file for South Carolina Senate special election

Three candidates have filed to run in the special election for District 31 in the South Carolina State Senate. State Rep. Jay Jordan (R), Mike Reichenbach (R), and Suzanne La Rochelle (D) all filed before the Dec. 11 filing deadline. Jordan and Reichenbach will face off in the Republican primary on Jan. 25. The winner of the Republican primary will face La Rochelle in the special election on March 29.

The seat became vacant after the death of Hugh Leatherman (R) on Nov. 12. He had served in the state Senate since 1981. He was unopposed in his re-election bid in 2020.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 29-16 majority in the state Senate with one vacancy. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of December, 11 state legislative special elections have been scheduled to take place in 2022. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. South Carolina held 33 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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Redistricting timeline update: South Carolina legislature announces special sessions, Washington Supreme Court assumes redistricting authority

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from South Carolina and Washington.

South Carolina: On Nov. 18, 2021, Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) said senators will meet on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. in a special session to address redistricting. House Speaker Jay Lucas (R) also announced a special session for the South Carolina House beginning Dec. 1. 

Washington: After the Washington State Redistricting Commission missed its Nov. 15, 2021, deadline, authority to create new districts passed to the Washington Supreme Court. According to Article II, Section 43 of the Washington Constitution, the court has until April 30 to complete new district maps.



Filing deadline approaches for South Carolina State Senate special election

Candidates interested in running in the special election for South Carolina State Senate District 31 have until Dec. 11 to file. A primary election is scheduled for Jan. 25, and the general election is set for Mar. 29. If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the primary, a primary runoff election will take place Feb. 8.

The special election was called after Hugh Leatherman (R) passed away on Nov. 12. Leatherman served from 1981 to 2021.

South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that the Republican Party controls the office of the governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans have a 29-16 majority in the South Carolina State Senate with one vacancy.

As of November 2021, 10 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in seven states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Party control of mayor’s office in Columbia, S.C., flips from Democratic to Republican in runoff

Daniel Rickenmann defeated Tameika Isaac Devine in the runoff election for mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 16. Rickenmann received 52% of the vote to Devine’s 48%. Both Rickenmann and Devine are members of the Columbia City Council.

While mayoral elections in Columbia are nonpartisan, Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican Party. Incumbent Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a Democrat, did not run for re-election. Benjamin endorsed Devine, also a Democrat, in the runoff.

Fifteen state capitals held mayoral elections in 2021. Before these elections, 14 officeholders were Democrats and one was nonpartisan. As a result of the 2021 elections, 12 mayoral offices will remain under Democratic control (Atlanta, Georgia, will hold a runoff election between two Democrats on Nov. 30). The election in Columbia flips one office from Democratic to Republican control. One office continues to be held by a nonpartisan mayor, and one newly-elected mayor has not responded to inquiries.

Currently, the mayors of 39 state capitals are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Four are Republicans, one is independent, and two are nonpartisan. Four mayors have not responded to inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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Mayor and city council races advance to runoffs in Columbia, S.C.

The general municipal election in Columbia, S.C., was held on Nov. 2. Candidates competed for mayor and three seats on the seven-seat city council. 

In the nonpartisan mayor’s race, Daniel Rickenmann and Tameika Isaac Devine advanced to a general runoff election, defeating Sam Johnson and Moe Baddourah. The runoff, scheduled for Nov. 16, is needed because no candidate earned more than 50% of the vote in the general election. 

In the race for the at-large city council seat, Aditi Bussells and Tyler Bailey advanced to a runoff, defeating five other candidates. In District 1, Tina Herbert defeated Christa Williams outright, earning 54% of the vote to Williams’ 45%. Joe Taylor won the District 4 race, in which he was unopposed.

Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.



Roundup of noteworthy court challenges involving redistricting (Oct. 19)

Here’s a summary of recent court challenges involving redistricting.

Former Republican elected officials file lawsuit challenging Oregon’s congressional map

On Oct. 11, four former Oregon elected officials—former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R), former Oregon House Republican leader Gary Wilhelms (R), former Mayor of The Dalles James Wilcox, and former Oregon House Speaker Larry Campbell (R)—filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the validity of the state’s enacted congressional map. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the map was “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered redistricting map, as the Democrats drew the map with impermissible partisan intent to favor the Democratic Party, and [the map] will have impermissible partisan effects.” The plaintiffs requested the court declare the congressional map invalid and draw a different congressional map.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the new congressional map into law on Sept. 27. It was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6.

ACLU, NAACP file lawsuit in federal court regarding South Carolina redistricting timeline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 12 against the South Carolina legislature asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to return to session. South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special Senate session originally scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and indicated that lawmakers may not reconvene to address redistricting until December or January.

The ACLU and NAACP said the delay would prevent any potential lawsuits from being resolved before the new districts take effect. Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said “In every redistricting cycle for the last 50 years — since Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act — voters and others have been compelled to go to court to fix the legislature’s maps…The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will reconvene to take up its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any court challenge before the consequential 2022 primaries is unacceptable.”

Three-judge panel named for federal lawsuit asking Virginia to hold legislative elections in both 2021 and 2022

A three-judge panel was selected in a federal lawsuit filed by former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman that argues that the state’s November 2021 legislative elections with districts drawn after the 2010 census violates the state’s constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Goldman filed the suit in July.

Goldman argued that Virginia should also hold legislative elections in November 2022 after the state completes redistricting since urban areas have seen increased population growth relative to other parts of the state. Goldman stated that votes in the areas where the population has risen more rapidly are less valuable than those in other parts of the state if the 2010 maps are used for the entire two-year cycle.

U.S. District Judge David Novak ruled the case could move forward and appointed himself, Fourth Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to hear the case. Novak was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), Thacker was appointed by President Barack Obama (D), and Jackson was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

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Redistricting timeline updates: New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina continue to hold public meetings

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting timeline updates from New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina.

New York: The New York Independent Redistricting Commission announced a second round of public hearings on map proposals to be held between Oct. 20 and Nov. 23, 2021. The first deadline for the commission to submit map proposals to the legislature for approval is Jan. 1, 2022, and the second deadline is Jan. 15, 2022.

North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee continues to hold meetings, including a meeting for public input on the partial proposed redistricting maps on September 22. Additional meetings are scheduled for September 28 and 29 at the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.

South Carolina: House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R) announced on September 22 that the South Carolina House will return in December to approve new district maps. The House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee continues to hold public meetings through October 4, 2021.