(DCWatchdog.com) – In a notable historic defeat for the Democratic Party, South Carolina’s biggest city, Charleston, has elected its first Republican mayor since the 1870s, as the GOP challenger has defeated the leftist incumbent in a runoff election.
In a historic electoral upset, Republican William Cogswell triumphed over incumbent John Tecklenburg in the Charleston, SC, mayoral runoff election on Tuesday, marking the first time since the Reconstruction Era that the city will have a Republican mayor.
Cogswell, who has served three terms in the state house and is known as a moderate Republican, won the race by a margin of 569 votes, which translated to a 2-percent lead, National Review reports.
The election proceeded to a runoff after Cogswell achieved a plurality in the November 7 general election but fell short of the necessary 50 percent majority. The runoff witnessed a voter turnout of 27 percent, with 30,190 votes cast.
Cogswell, a real estate developer who received endorsements from significant South Carolina Republican figures including Senator Tim Scott.
“We can confidently say that I’m going to be the next mayor. The people have spoken, and we’re ready for a new direction… a new direction that puts labels aside, so that we can find pragmatic solutions to our problems,” the GOP candidate proclaimed after the vote.
Charleston, typically a Democratic stronghold in an otherwise red state, hadn’t elected a Republican mayor since the 1870s.
Despite the city’s recent political leaning, the mayoral office is officially nonpartisan.
Key issues that dominated the mayoral race included managing the city’s rapid population growth, addressing flooding and public safety concerns, and regulating tourism.
The Post and Courier highlighted that one city council district’s population more than doubled between the 2010 and 2020 census counts.
Cogswell criticized incumbent Tecklenburg for his handling of the riots that erupted in Charleston following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
In a notable television advertisement, Caroline Reynolds, the widow of the late police chief Luther Reynolds, condemned Cogswell’s use of the mayor’s response to the riots as a political tool, while endorsing Tecklenburg.
Tecklenburg conceded the race on Tuesday evening, describing his tenure as mayor as “the honor of my life.” He appealed to his supporters to unite behind the newly elected mayor.