Charleston elects Republican mayor for first time since 1870s

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The city of Charleston, South Carolina, has elected its first Republican mayor since the reconstruction era of the 1870s. 

According to the South Carolina Election Commission, state Rep. William Cogswell defeated incumbent Mayor John Tecklenburg (D) by two percentage points in runoff election Tuesday. 

Five hundred and sixty-six votes separated the two candidates, according to the commission’s results.  

The Associated Press reported that despite receiving the most votes in the general municipal election earlier this month, Cogswell did not obtain a majority, resulting in the runoff election. 

Cogswell, 48, served three terms as a Republican in the state House and received endorsements from some in the state’s GOP political circle, including Sen. Tim Scott. 

“We can confidently say that I’m going to be the next mayor,” Cogswell said Tuesday night. 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.”

In his concession speech, Tecklenburg called his eight-year run as Charleston’s mayor as “the honor of my life,” asking his supporters to rally behind Cogswell, according to The AP. 

“I’d like to congratulate our new Mayor-Elect William Cogswell … and I’d like to ask each and every Charlestonian, everybody out there, to give him your support,” Tecklenburg said. “When Mayor Cogswell succeeds, Charleston succeeds, and that’s something we’re all in favor of.”

This is the first time the South Carolina city has chosen a Republican to serve as its mayor since the 1870s, according to historical records from the city. 

The recent election makes Charleston the second reliably Democratic city in the state to trade a Democrat for a Republican mayor in recent years. Daniel Rickenmann (R), then a longtime city council member, became the first in recent history when he was elected mayor of Columbia in 2021.

“Congratulations to Charleston Mayor-Elect William Cogswell on his major victory!,” the Republican National Committee (RNC) wrote in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Charleston will now have a Republican mayor for the first time since 1877!”

The Associated Press contributed.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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