Democrat Turns House Seat Blue In Special Election Surprise

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In a special election for a state House seat in South Carolina, Democratic candidate Spencer Wetmore has flipped the seat into Democratic hands after a long period of previous Republican control. Wetmore will be replacing Republican Peter McCoy, who stepped aside prior to his recent assumption of the role of U.S. Attorney for South Carolina and had previously held the seat (in state House district 115) since 2011. Wetmore’s victory was impressive — she got more than 59 percent of the vote, as of Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, Wetmore’s Republican challenger Josh Stokes only garnered just above 39 percent of the votes, as of the same point on Wednesday.

South Carolina news outlet The State notes that Wetmore’s victory has been “heralded by some Democrats as a possible signal their party could make more gains this fall.” Wetmore will be up for re-election this fall, since the current election was just to fill out the rest of McCoy’s last term, but Wetmore’s big victory now suggests she’ll win again.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post commented:

‘By flipping this seat from red to blue, Spencer is giving Democrats more power in the chamber’s policymaking process. Her win sends a clear message to Republicans that Democrats have momentum going into the final stretch of the 2020 cycle. This red to blue flip coming on the heels of a Democratic flip in a Kentucky Trump-won district should worry Senator Lindsey Graham and the rest of the GOP.’

The flipped seat in Kentucky was a state Senate seat; Democrats won that seat after 25 years of Republican control. Meanwhile, one of the most high-profile races in South Carolina in November might be the match-up between Democrat Jaime Harrison and Republican Lindsey Graham in the race for the U.S. Senate seat that Graham currently holds. Although the Cook Political Report currently forecasts that the Harrison/Graham race is a “likely” Republican victory, in the most recent survey — which was conducted by Public Policy Polling — Graham led by just 3 percent. He had 47 percent of the support, while Harrison got 43 percent. A 3 percent leading margin for Graham certainly seems surmountable, and Harrison has the support to propel his campaign forward; in the second quarter of 2020 alone, Harrison raised nearly $14 million.

Meanwhile, in the state legislature, following Wetmore’s victory, Democrats are set to have 45 seats of the 124-seat state House chamber. The State notes that state legislators “are due to return next month for a special gathering to weigh in on some measures related to the pandemic, including possible expansions of absentee voting and other changes for the November election.”  The Coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves throughout the United States, and funding for state and local governments has been one of the sticking points amidst the currently stalled negotiations over a potential new Coronavirus-connected economic relief package. Democrats want more support; Republicans want less.

The struggles for Republicans in lower-level elections mirror the struggles for President Donald Trump himself, who is currently losing to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by an average of 7.5 percent on the national level, according to RealClearPolitics. Biden’s lead in national-level polling has been at 7 percent or above for the majority of the last two months and counting.