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SC sees tight race in Dem primary for state Senate seat; leader ahead by 11 votes

  • The Democratic primary for a special election in South Carolina’s vacant Senate seat is locked in a tight race, with a minimal number of votes separating the candidates.
  • After counting all the regular ballots on Wednesday, state Representative Deon Tedder held an 11-vote lead over state Representative Wendell Gillard, out of the 4,173 votes cast in the runoff.
  • The race is highly likely to proceed to a recount since state law mandates it when the margin is within 1 percentage point.

The Democratic nominee for a special election for an open South Carolina Senate seat appears to have come down to a handful of votes.

With all the regular ballots counted Wednesday, state Rep. Deon Tedder led state Rep. Wendell Gillard by 11 votes out of the 4,173 cast in the runoff, according to the South Carolina Election Commission’s results.

The Charleston County Election Commission will decide the fate of 10 provisional ballots later this week and two outstanding overseas military ballots haven’t been returned and face a Wednesday night deadline, county Elections Director Isaac Cramer told The Post and Courier.

The race will almost certainly go to a recount. State law requires it when the margin is within 1 percentage point.

The Senate seat is open because Democratic Sen. Marlon Kimpson resigned after 10 years in office to take a job developing trade policy with President Joe Biden’s administration.

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Gillard, 69, won the three-way primary two weeks ago with 47% of the vote. But South Carolina requires a majority to win the nomination. Tedder won 39% in the primary, while state Rep. JA Moore received 15%.

The winner faces Republican Rosa Kay in Nov. 7 general election. The district is heavily Democratic, running from the Charleston peninsula into North Charleston.

If elected Tedder, 33, would be the youngest member of the state Senate. Kimpson endorsed the attorney and two-term state House member along with several other prominent Charleston area Democrats.

Tedder also got the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the most prominent Democrat in the state.

That rankled Gillard, who said if he loses once results are finalized, he might challenge Clyburn in 2024 if the 83-year-old runs for a 17th term.

‘He gets an attitude if you’re not kissing his ring. I ain’t kissing no ring. I’m not ever going to do that in politics,’ Gilliard told the Charleston newspaper.

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