Government Affairs Report: the Elections

In case you missed it, the elections were last week.  I hope you voted.  Before I give you a rundown of the Upstate races, here are some observations:

  • Turnout was high-not quite as high as 2018-but still good. 
    • Anderson County was 51%. 
    • Pickens County was 53%. 
    • Oconee County was 54%.  Go Oconee!
  • Penny sales tax referendums in Berkeley and Dorchester counties, both red counties with purple tendencies, passed.  Both carried fairly convincingly.  In fact, Berkeley passed two pennies, one for capital projects and one for schools.
  • In the redder Lexington County, their capital project sales tax referendum failed equally convincingly.  There will be some studying of that outcome to see what can be learned for possible ballot questions in Greenville and Spartanburg counties in 2024.
  • Trump was a factor in the congressional elections, particularly the Senate, but not in a good way for Republicans.  He backed some extreme candidates who won their primaries, but most lost in the general election.  I am sure someone will write a book about it but at this writing, almost a week after the election, we still don’t know which party will control the US House. 
  • We saw write-in campaigns in several races around the state, and they got a little more traction than normal, but none came close to winning their races. 

A Red Wave?

There may not have been a red wave nationally, but there was one in South Carolina.  Republicans picked up a net of six seats in the SC House.  They now hold an 88 to 36 advantage and have a supermajority in the House.  Democrats won’t have enough seats to be a factor on the House’s six primary legislative committees.  The SC Senate wasn’t on the ballot, so there was no change there.  Republicans hold a smaller majority, but they are still solidly in the majority in the SC Senate.

On the national level, it was a different story.  It appears that Democrats held control of the US Senate and may even pick up a seat.  We’ll know the final outcome after Georgia holds the third runoff for a Senate seat in a little more than two years. 

In the US House, Republicans have an advantage at this writing, with 212 seats to the Democrats’ 204.  Republicans only need to pick up six more seats out of 19 still undecided, but those remaining 19 seats all come from solidly Democratic states like California and New York.  If Republicans do gain control of the US House, it will be with a razor-thin margin of just a handful of seats.

How did RPAC do?

RPAC reported that in South Carolina, 108 of the 110 candidates supported by RPAC won their races-a 98% win rate. 

Here are the results in the races in the Upstate on which RPAC took positions:

  • Governor: Henry McMaster won 58-41.  I am told that is the largest margin for a Republican in SC history.  And if he finishes his term, McMaster will be the longest-serving Governor in SC history.
  • Attorney General: Alan Wilson was unopposed.  He is entering his fourth term.
  • US Senate: Tim Scott won 63-37. 
  • US House District 1: Nancy Mace won 56-42.
  • US House District 2: Joe Wilson won 60-40.
  • US House District 3: Jeff Duncan was unopposed.
  • US House District 4: William Timmons had primary opposition and faced a write-in candidate, who was fairly effective, but still won 91-9.
  • US House District 5: Ralph Norman won 64-35.
  • US House District 6: Jim Clyburn won 62-38.
  • US House District 7: Russell Fry won 65-34.  Fry is a state representative from Myrtle Beach.  He defeated incumbent Tom Rice in the primary.  RPAC supported Rice in the primary and Fry in the general election.
  • SC House District 2: Bill Sandifer faced a write-in candidate and won 88-12.  He is Labor Commerce and Industry Committee chairman.
  • SC House District 4: Davey Hiott was unopposed.  He is the new House Majority Leader.
  • SC House District 5: Neal Collins was unopposed but had primary opposition.
  • SC House District 6: April Cromer was unopposed.  She defeated Brian White in the primary.
  • SC House District 7: Jay West won 77-22.
  • SC House District 8: Don Chapman won 73-25.  Don is a home builder.  He fills the seat currently held by Jonathan Hill.
  • SC House District 9: Anne Thayer won 74-26.  Rep. Thayer also benefited from an independent expenditure sponsored by RPAC.
  • SC House District 10: Thomas Beach was unopposed.  He is a REALTOR® and defeated West Cox in the primary.
  • Anderson County Council District 2: Glenn Davis defeated David Standard 61-39.  RPAC supported Standard.  This was Standard’s third try for the seat.
  • Anderson County Council District 5: Tommy Dunn was unopposed.  He had primary opposition in June.

McMaster and Wilson have been supportive of your industry, and their long tenures are beneficial to REALTORS® as a result.  In addition, the Upstate’s influence over the General Assembly continues to improve.  These Upstate legislators hold now or will hold influential positions in 2023:

  • Senator Harvey Peeler, Finance Committee Chairman
  • Senator Thomas Alexander, President of the Senate
  • Senator Shane Martin, Corrections and Penology Committee Chairman
  • Senator Danny Verdin, Medical Affairs Committee Chairman
  • Rep. Bruce Bannister, Ways and Means Committee Chairman
  • Rep. Mark Willis, Interstate Cooperation Committee Chairman
  • Rep. Bill Sandifer, Labor Commerce and Industry Committee Chairman
  • Rep. Anne Thayer, Rules Committee Chairwoman
  • Rep. Davey Hiott, House Majority Leader

A few other races we watched for trends:

  • Ellen Weaver, a Republican, won the open SC Superintendent of Education race 56-40.  She convincingly overcame questions about her qualifications to hold the office in the campaign.
  • Republican Chad Groover defeated long-time Democratic incumbent Debora Faulkner in the Greenville County Probate Judge race 60-40.  That race shows the power of Republican straight-ticket voting.  60,942 voters cast straight-party Republican ballots out of the 178,503 votes cast.
  • Both of the constitutional amendments were approved with more than 60% of the vote.
  • Democrat Claiborne Linvill defeated Republican Brad White for the Clemson area Pickens County Council seat.  The Clemson area appears to lean Democrat, but it was White’s social media activity that was the largest factor in the race. 
  • There were also city council races in Clemson, Liberty, and Westminster:
    • Clemson City Council: Lillian Boatwright, John Fulmer, and Alesia Smith were the top vote getters for three seats.
    • Liberty City Council at-large: Chuck Powell won in a four-way race.
    • Liberty City Council Ward 2: Lavant Padgett was unopposed.
    • Westminster City Council: Ruth May was unopposed.

Your RPAC contributions help make REALTORS® a strong force in elections.  And those election results help make your Association of REALTORS® a strong advocate for your industry.  In my next report, we will highlight some of the REALTORS® who have helped make RPAC a strong force.  You won’t want to miss that report.

Michael Dey, Advocacy Consultant
Western Upstate Association of REALTORS®