By Barney Blakeney
Among the many elections Charleston County voters will decide in November will be two special elections to fill unexpired terms in S.C. House Districts 113 Nov. 7 and House 99 Nov. 14. Demographics in the two seats are vastly different, but they share a common characteristic – both are partisan strongholds for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.
In House District 113, Democrat J. Seth Whipper resigned in August the seat in the majority Black North Charleston district he’s held 23 years to take a position as a Charleston County magistrate. In contrast, Dist. 99 Representative James Merrill resigned the seat he’s held since 2001 in the staunchly Republican East Cooper district after pleading guilty to charges of misconduct in office.
North Charleston Democrat, attorney Marvin Pendarvis, seems poised to make a seamless transition into the House 113 seat although he is challenged by Republican Party primary winner, Theron Sandy, II. The House Dist. 99 election will be a Republican primary race followed by a November 28 runoff if necessary and a January 16 special election. Four candidates – Jarrod Brooks, Nancy Mace, Shawn Pinkston and Mark Smith are vying for the seat vacated by Merrill.
Charleston County Democratic Party Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan said, “We are excited for the election on Nov 7 for SC House 113. The opportunity to elect a new generation of leadership by voting for Marvin Pendarvis is something the Democratic Party takes very seriously.
“We will be working hard to ensure everyone in the district knows there is an election happening and understands the importance of voting on Nov 7.”
“On a personal note I am so proud of Marvin Pendarvis and the race he has run. He’s been involved in the community for years and this is an obvious extension of his commitment to improve this area. He’s made sure the campaign has stayed positive and focused on the issues. I couldn’t be more proud to vote for and help elect Marvin Pendarvis to become the next Representative for SC House 113.”
Quirk-Garvan’s Republican counterpart Larry Kobrovsky said leadership in both house districts are about as partisan safe partisan as can be imagined. Although the political machine in the Democratic Party has been more influential in the House 113 election that picked Pendarvis to go forward, Kobrovsky thinks the Republican candidate has a better chance of winning in the Democratic stronghold than a Democrat winning in the mostly Mount Pleasant Republican House 99 district.
But in both races factors such as funding and family dynasties still determine campaign outcomes, Kobrovsky said. What’s most likely to be decided is whether the eventual victor in House 99 will be from Berkeley County or Charleston County.