November 9, 2022
The South Carolina general election took place yesterday for all SC House seats, SC Constitutional Officers, and U.S. Congressional districts. The number of competitive races in SC were scarce, but there were a few upsets across the state, including one Republican incumbent and five Democrat incumbents. Most notably, Representative Kirkman Finlay (R), who represents parts of downtown Columbia, lost to Heather Bauer (D) who won with 51% of the vote. Long serving incumbent from Greenwood, Representative Anne Parks (D), lost to her challenger Daniel Gibson (R). Representative Krystle Matthews (D) was challenged for her House seat by Jordan Pace (R) while she simultaneously ran for the U.S. Senate against U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R). Rep. Matthews lost both races last night.
The South Carolina Senate is not up for election until 2024.
Governor Henry McMaster (R) faced a challenge from former 1st District Congressman Joe Cunningham (D) for Governor but came out on top with 58% percent of the vote. This will be Governor McMaster’s final full term as Governor, setting him up to be the state’s longest-serving governor with a term of ten years. Pamela Evette (R) was re-elected for a second and final term as Lieutenant Governor, as the Lieutenant Governor has been elected on a joint ticket with the Governor since 2018.
The most talked about general election contest was the race for Superintendent of Education to replace current Superintendent Molly Spearman who announced she would not be seeking re-election last fall after eight years of service. Ellen Weaver, CEO of Palmetto Promise Institute, defeated Lisa Ellis (D), an educator who founded teacher advocacy group SC for ED. Weaver, a supporter of school choice, defeated Ellis by a 55% to 43% margin.
Secretary of State Mark Hammond (R), Commissioner of Agriculture 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 both 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 Representative Kirkman Finlay (R – Richland), Representative Anne Parks (D – Greenwood), and Representative Krystle Matthews (D – Berkeley), the other losses include: Representative Kimberly Johnson (D – Clarendon) who lost to Fawn Pedalino (R); Representative Chardale Murray (D – Charleston) who lost to Matt Leber (R); and Representative Shedron Williams (D – Hampton) who lost to Bill Hager (R).
Thirteen House members did not seek re-election this year – among the list are prominent and long-serving members Speaker Jay Lucas and House Ways and Means Chairman Gary Simrill. Cody Mitchell (R) was the only name on the ballot and will fill Speaker Lucas’ open seat in District 65 which includes Chesterfield, Darlington, Kershaw and Lancaster counties. Heath Sessions (R) won and was the only name on the ballot in York County District 46, which is currently held by House Ways and Means Chairman Gary Simrill. Businessman Jay Kilmartin (R) faced John Davis (L) and won last night for the open house seat around Lake Murray which came open after Representative Chip Huggins announced his retirement earlier this year. David Vaughan (R) was the only name on the ballot and will fill the open seat in District 27, the Greenville district currently held by Representative Garry Smith. Mike Neese (R) faced Aaron McKinney (I) and won in District 44; the seat previously held by Representative Sandy McGarry.
Republicans picked up eight additional seats last night bringing the composition in the House to 88 Republicans and 36 Democrats. The SC House membership will include 27 new members.
Control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate was up for grabs and the democrats performed better than expected. The fates of both the House and Senate are still up in the air, as major races have yet to be called and may take a few more days. The most competitive general election race in SC was between 1st Congressional District Representative Nancy Mace (R) and Annie Andrews (D). Representative Mace won with over 56% of the vote and will serve another term. All seven SC Congressional seats were up for re-election this year and all incumbents will serve another term except 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. Representative Fry faced an opponent yesterday but came out on top and will be the next Congressman for District 7.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R) was successful in his reelection to his second full term by beating SC Representative Krystle Matthews (D).
Statewide Ballot Questions
SC voters were asked two questions at the polls yesterday regarding holding more money in the state’s general reserve fund in the years ahead in case of economic downturns. Voters chose to have a larger emergency savings account and decided that the state would be able to tap into the Capital Reserve Fund first to avoid mid-year budget cuts for state agencies.