SC House’s only black Repub­li­can among 3 leg­is­la­tors to lose

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Local - BY BRIS­TOW MARCHANT bmarchant@thes­tate.com

In a state where elec­tions to the S.C. Leg­is­la­ture usu­ally aren’t very com­pet­i­tive or even con­tested, Tues­day’s elec­tion turned up some sur­prise re­sults that could shake up the State House.

Three in­cum­bent S.C. House mem­bers lost their re-elec­tion bids Tues­day, in­clud­ing the House’s only black Repub­li­can.

Two of those long-serv­ing GOP House mem­bers from the Low­coun­try may have fallen vic­tim to the same surge in Demo­cratic vot­ers that elected the state’s first new Demo­crat to Con­gress in decades.

State Rep. Bill Crosby, RCharleston, lost his bid for a fifth term, as did state Rep. Samuel Rivers, R-Berke­ley, the House’s only black Repub­li­can mem­ber.

State Rep. Patsy Knight, DDorch­ester, was the third in­cum­bent swept out of of­fice in the Low­coun­try.

Com­pet­i­tive leg­isla­tive races are rare in South Carolina. Only 48 of the House’s 124 dis­tricts were con­tested by both a Demo­crat and a Repub­li­can.

Even rarer are up­sets of an in­cum­bent.

In part, the losses may be a re­sult of shift­ing de­mo­graph­ics in a fast-grow­ing re­gion of the state.

First-time can­di­date Krys­tle Sim­mons un­seated Crosby. A sin­gle mother of five chil­dren who works at Boe­ing’s North Charles­ton plant, Sim­mons said she has seen change in District 117, which strad­dles the North Charles­ton-Goose Creek area.

“It’s not just one type of peo­ple mov­ing in here be­cause this is one of the more af­ford­able ar­eas,” Sim­mons said.

Sim­mons said her new con­stituents want their state rep­re­sen­ta­tive to fo­cus on liv­abil­ity is­sues, in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion and schools. To ad­dress those is­sues, Sim­mons said she wants to lift Act 388’s tax re­stric­tions on school dis­tricts.

Crosby, an eight-year in­cum­bent, said he was “blind­sided” by Tues­day’s re­sults. He said Sim­mons is the only Demo­cratic op­po­nent he has faced dur­ing his ten­ure in the House.

Crosby had not met Sim­mons be­fore Tues­day’s vote. On elec­tion night, he didn’t even have a phone num­ber to call to con­grat­u­late her.

But, in hind­sight, Crosby doesn’t think he should have been sur­prised by Tues­day’s re­sults.

“A lot of peo­ple were com­ing into the area, a lot of apart­ments

and houses be­ing built, and we weren’t sure what their party af­fil­i­a­tion was,” he said. “I cam­paigned for new busi­nesses and in­dus­try com­ing in, and now I think that’s what beat me.”

Rivers, who has rep­re­sented the neigh­bor­ing District 15 in the House for six years, said pop­u­la­tion growth has helped his district.

“In the last four years, we’ve had 600 peo­ple (move in) who were reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans in other states,” Rivers said. “But we didn’t gal­va­nize them. They were not as mo­ti­vated as dur­ing the Trump elec­tion, the Rom­ney elec­tion or even the Ha­ley elec­tions for some rea­son.”

Rivers thinks he lost be­cause of the wave of Demo­cratic vot­ers who lifted Joe Cun­ning­ham to a nar­row win over GOP state Rep. Katie Ar­ring­ton in the 1st District race to re­place U.S. Rep. Mark San­ford in Con­gress.

“You did see in­creased Demo­cratic turnout in the con­gres­sional race in places in Berke­ley and parts of Charles­ton, even though Charles­ton has been mov­ing Demo­cratic,” Rivers said.

Rivers lost to J.A. Moore, the owner of a cater­ing com­pany.

Moore also cred­its Cun­ning­ham’s “very pos­i­tive” cam­paign for push­ing him to a nar­row win over Rivers, who has held the District 15 seat since Tim Scott gave it up to run for Con­gress. (Scott now is the U.S. Se­nate’s only black Repub­li­can mem­ber.)

How­ever, Moore says an un­ortho­dox cam­paign head­quar­ters — at a Goose Creek bar­ber shop — also helped his cam­paign.

“Some­thing I learned from my fa­ther, when I was 18, is to go where the peo­ple are,” Moore said. “I had peo­ple come in who had never been in a cam­paign head­quar­ters be­fore just to get a hair­cut.”

Moore wants to see the state raise the pay of teach­ers. He also wants Berke­ley County to in­tro­duce a pub­lic trans­porta­tion op­tion to al­le­vi­ate traf­fic con­cerns.

It wasn’t just Low­coun­try Repub­li­cans who lost stun­ners Tues­day.

Demo­crat Knight, who de­clined com­ment, lost her S.C. House seat rep­re­sent­ing Dorch­ester County’s District 97 to Repub­li­can Mandy Kim­mons, a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor with the 1st Cir­cuit so­lic­i­tor’s of­fice.

Kim­mons said she wants to turn her ex­per­tise in pros­e­cut­ing ju­ve­nile cases to­ward prob­lems in ed­u­ca­tion, which she sees as the source of the youth­ful crime prob­lem.

“I would get copies of (sus­pects’) school records and grades, and, some­times, you could see the cor­re­la­tion with tru­ancy and delin­quency, things like that,” Kim­mons said. “Get­ting a high school diploma can do more to keep you out of prison than even a col­lege de­gree.”

S.C. VOT­ERS MORE PRO-TRUMP THAN PUB­LIC AT LARGE

South Carolini­ans who voted Tues­day are more sup­port­ive of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and more pos­i­tive about the coun­try’s out­look than the state’s res­i­dents at large.

A ma­jor­ity of South Carolini­ans cast­ing a vote Tues­day — 53 per­cent — ap­prove of the job Trump is do­ing as pres­i­dent, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press’s Vote­Cast sur­vey. Forty-seven per­cent said they did not ap­prove of Trump.

A poll of all South Carolini­ans — not just vot­ers — by Winthrop Univer­sity two weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day found a less rosy view of the pres­i­dent. Al­most half of those sur­veyed — 49 per­cent — said they dis­ap­proved of Trump. Only 44 per­cent ap­proved.

There also is a di­ver­gence in how S.C. vot­ers and all South Carolini­ans see the state of the coun­try.

More than half of S.C. vot­ers — 53 per­cent — told the AP they think the coun­try is on the right track. The gen­eral pub­lic — all South Carolini­ans — is less op­ti­mistic, with 56 per­cent say­ing the coun­try is on the wrong track, ac­cord­ing to Winthrop.

Pres­i­dent Trump was on most S.C. vot­ers’ minds as they cast their bal­lots Tues­day, they told the AP.

About three in 10 — 29 per­cent — said a rea­son for their vote was to ex­press sup­port for Trump. Slightly more —31 per­cent — said they voted to ex­press op­po­si­tion to Trump.

How­ever, 40 per­cent of S.C. vot­ers said Trump was not a fac­tor they con­sid­ered while cast­ing their votes.

DEMO­CRATIC FLIP DE­NIES WIL­SON HIS GAVEL

U.S. Rep. Joe Wil­son, R-Spring­dale, was re­elected hand­ily Tues­day to his 2nd District seat in the U.S. House, rep­re­sent­ing parts of the Mid­lands. But the na­tional elec­tion did not go his way.

With Democrats re­tak­ing con­trol of the U.S. House, Repub­li­can Wil­son now is out of con­tention to chair the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee next year. While Wil­son faced com­pe­ti­tion among his fel­low Repub­li­cans for the chair­man­ship had the GOP re­tained con­trol of the House, the 10-term con­gress­man could have pointed to his years of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on for­eign pol­icy and de­fense is­sues.

Wil­son still could be­come the rank­ing Repub­li­can on the com­mit­tee — ef­fec­tively the No. 2 con­gress­man on the panel. But now Eliot En­gel, DN.Y., is in line to be­come chair­man when Democrats take over in Jan­uary.

South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham will be less af­fected by Tues­day’s vote.

The GOP in­creased its ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate, where Repub­li­can Gra­ham could be­come the new head of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. That would put Gra­ham in po­si­tion to over­see any new ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions by the White House. This fall, Gra­ham was a vo­cal de­fender of Pres­i­dent Trump’s Supreme Court nom­i­nee, Brett Ka­vanaugh.

New S.C. House mem­bers Krys­tle Sim­mons, J.A. Moore and Mandy Kim­mons. All three de­feated in­cum­bent mem­bers of the S.C. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Tues­day’s elec­tion.

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