2018 South Carolina General Election Recap

November 12, 2018

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McMaster Elected Governor

On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) was elected to his first full term, receiving 54 percent of the vote, while his opponent James Smith (D) received 46% of the vote.

Smith won the Democratic strongholds in Columbia and Charleston but McMaster’s success in the Republican-heavy Upstate and Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head areas put him over the top. Bolstered by support from President Donald Trump, McMaster campaigned successfully on a job creation and economic development platform. During his concession speech, Smith urged McMaster to improve the state’s education and healthcare system and promised to continue working to improve the state of South Carolina.

This year marks the first time that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have been elected on the same ticket. Traveler’s Rest businesswoman Pamela Evette will work side-by-side with McMaster as the Lieutenant Governor.

Constitutional Offices

Incumbent Republican Alan Wilson won a landslide on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Constance Anastopoulo of Charleston by a 55 to 43 margin. After surviving a three-way June primary, Wilson will begin his third term as the state’s top prosecutor.

Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman also cruised to victory on Tuesday, after her Democrat opponent Israel Romero dropped out of the race three weeks before election day after reports surfaced that he had a prior felony conviction. Republicans retained control of all Constitutional Office seats with Mark Hammond, Curtis Loftis, Richard Eckstrom and Hugh Weathers all keeping their incumbent seats for Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Comptroller General, and Commissioner of Agriculture.

Ballot Questions

In a 60 to 40 vote, South Carolinians rejected making the State Superintendent of Education an appointed position. Republicans have fought to make the position appointed rather than elected for the past 15 years, however, with no organized campaign for passage and opposition from teachers across the state, the proposal was handily defeated.

S.C. Senate

Democrat Dick Harpootlian won the special election for state Senate District 20, flipping a seat that has been in the hands of Republicans for decades. Harpootlian defeated Republican Benjamin Dunn 52 to 48 percent and will fill the unexpired term of Sen. John Courson who resigned earlier this year as a result of the State House Ethics probe.

Harpootlian is a former state Democratic party chairman and currently works as a private attorney. He stated that his supporters shared his dissatisfaction with how the Legislature operates, as well as his concern over recent public corruption cases involving elected leaders.

With the Democrats picking up a previously held Republican seat, the party make-up in the Senate is now 27 Republicans and 19 Democrats. It is expected that Sen. William Timmons will resign his District 6 Senate seat this week due to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. Timmons’ move to Congress will set the stage for a special election early next year to fill his Senate seat.

S.C. House of Representatives

There will be 16 new members in the House of Representatives next year, after three incumbents were defeated in Tuesday’s election. Democrat Patsy Knight (District 97, Dorchester) was defeated by Republican Mandy Kimmons by a 53 to 46 margin. Republican Bill Crosby (District 117, Charleston) was defeated by Democrat Krystle Simmons 53 to 46% and Republican Samuel Rivers (District 15, Berkeley) was defeated by Democrat JA Moore by a 50 to 47 margin. The only two Republicans to lose their seats this year were both members of the Berkeley delegation.

Due to a Republican pick-up in the seat formerly held by Rep. Mike Anthony (D-Union), the party make-up of the House will remain at 80 Republicans and 44 Democrats. The House will convene in December for an organizational session where committee assignments will be determined.

The 16 new members of the House are as follows:

  • William Bailey (District 104, Horry) – Bailey has served as the Director of Public Safety for North Myrtle Beach and is a former Horry County Airport Advisor.
  • Paula Rawl-Calhoon (District 87, Lexington) – Calhoon has spent most of her life serving others in Lexington County and has worked on committees to address elder abuse, special needs, juvenile justice and victim’s rights.
  • Con Chellis (District 94, Dorchester) – Chellis owns an insurance business in Summerville and has served on Dorchester County Council since 2016.
  • Bobby Cox (District 21, Greenville) – Cox currently works at SIG SAUER as Director of Government Strategy where he oversees business development programs for the Pentagon, State Department, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
  • West Cox (District 10, Anderson) – Cox is a lawyer with Cox and Cole in Williamston and previously was a real estate agent in the Upstate.
  • Kambrell Garvin (District 77, Richland) – Garvin is currently enrolled at USC School of Law and serves as a law clerk at Boykin and Davis, LLC.
  • Doug Gilliam (District 42, Union) – Gilliam retired from the military after 26 years of service and currently serves at the JROTC Senior Army Instructor at Union County High School.
  • Mark Hyde (District 32, Spartanburg) – Hyde is the founder of Hyde Law Firm and has served as a Spartanburg City Councilman where his focus was on economic development and diversifying the city’s professional workforce.
  • Mandy Kimmons (District 97, Dorchester) – A former prosecutor with the First Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Kimmons currently is an attorney at her own firm in Summerville.
  • Randy Ligon (District 43, Chester) – Ligon has over 30 years of experience as a farmer, commercial realtor, businessman, and auctioneer.
  • Annie McDaniel (District 41, Fairfield) – McDaniel works at McDaniel’s Accounting and Consulting Services in Winnsboro.
  • Adam Morgan (District 20, Greenville) – Morgan is a licensed attorney and President of Majesty Music, a Christian-based publishing company.
  • JA Moore (District 15, Berkeley) – Moore is a Lowcountry native, community advocate and professional chef. He graduated from Johnson & Wales and has over 15 years of experience as a chef.
  • Seth Rose (District 72, Richland) – Rose is a former prosecutor for Richland County and has served on Richland County Council. He is the founder of Seth Rose, Attorney at Law.
  • Krystle Simmons (District 117, Charleston) – Simmons is a ten year employee of Boeing Company and a mother to five children.
  • Shedron Williams (District 122, Hampton) – Williams serves as the Chairman of the Hampton County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council and as the Director of Education and Prevention for the ACCESS Network for the past 16 years.


Democrat Joe Cunningham defeated Republican Katie Arrington, flipping SC’s 1st District seat, which has been held by Republicans since 1981. Arrington, who campaigned on her alliance to President Trump, was narrowly defeated by Cunningham by a 50.7 to 49.3 percent margin.

Cunningham, who is new to politics, is an attorney that resides in West Ashley, and ran his campaign with a “Lowcountry over Party” message. Once considered a longshot when he announced his bid, Cunningham out-fundraised Arrington two to one.

Cunningham will be one of two Democrats representing South Carolina in Congress, alongside Jim Clyburn from District 6. He and Sen. William Timmons will join incumbents Joe Wilson (District 2), Jeff Duncan (District 3), Ralph Norman (District 5), and Tom Rice (District 7) who were all easily re-elected on Tuesday.