Clyburn, McLeod win as Democrats dominate Richland races
County is a bright spot for Democrats on a bleak night
While Republicans across the river in Lexington County were having a field day, Democrats ruled Tuesday in races across Richland County.
Nothing really new there, but on a night in which Democrats saw the presidency and both houses of Congress fall into GOP hands, the local victories were a salve nonetheless.
“Thank God some sanity prevailed across Richland County tonight,” said Democratic voter Michelle Lewan. “Tonight, with Trump, was a complete massacre. A disaster.”
“We took a beating. I’m still trying to process it. But Democrats in Columbia and Richland County are sending some good people back to office to represent us,” said fellow Democrat Harvey Bilboa. “We’re a little bastion of blue.”
In one of the few noteworthy contested races of the night, of which there were few, District 22 Democratic Sen. Mia McLeod held off a challenge from her Republican rival, Susan Brill, winning with 56 percent of the vote.
Meantime, Democratic U.S. Rep. James Clyburn was able to dispatch his GOP opponent, Laura Sterling, winning 82 percent of the vote in a four-person race.
And Democrat Ivory Thigpen prevailed in state House District 79, garnering 73 percent of the vote against Republican Donald Miles and Libertarian candidate Victor Kocher.
There were a few bright spots for Republicans, as incumbent Kirkman Finlay beat back Republican challenger Tyler Gregg with 59 percent of the vote to retain his District 75 House seat. And District 20 Sen. John Courson blew by Green party candidate Scott Lewis West. Meantime, District 71 Rep. Nathan Ballentine won reelection unopposed.
The vast majority of races were uncontested, with Democrats prevailing in partisan contests.
Unopposed winners were: S.C. Senate candidates John Scott, Jr.; Darrell Jackson; Thomas McElveen; state House candidates Todd Rutherford; Beth Bernstein; MaryGail Douglas; Joe Neal; James Smith; Chris Hart; Leon Howard; Joe McEachern; Jimmy Bales; Sheriff Leon Lott; Clerk of Court Jeanette McBride; and Coroner Gary Watts.
All Richland County Council races were uncontested except for two: Democrat Gwenn Kennedy bested Republican Michael Greene with 79 percent of the vote, while Democrat Jim Manning beat Republican Todd Phillips with 71 percent of the vote.
In the other council races, all unopposed and all Democrats, winners were Joyce Dickerson (D-1); Yvonne McBride (D-3); Calvin Chip Jackson (D-9); and Dalhi Myers (D-10).
In a small slate of non-partisan races, Jeff Laney won a seat to Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Meantime, voters in Richland County School District One selected Darrell Black, Lila Anna Sauls, Jamie Devine, and Cheryl Harris. District Two voters selected James Shadd, Monica Elkins, and Lindsay Agostini. And District Five voters elected Robert Gantt.