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Bright Matthews Takes The Lead To Force Senate Dist. 45 Runoff
9/9/2015 3:53:10 PM

Margie Bright Matthews
Staff Reports

The field was crowded as some 11 Democrats sought to fill the Senate Dist. 45 seat left vacant after the murder of Sen. Clementa Pinckney. The race included a hodgepodge of political hopefuls from across the expansive district that encompasses parts of Allendale, Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties. Only about 15 percent of constituents in the majority Black district, among the state’s poorest, reside in Charleston County.

Former Dist. 45 Sen. Rev. McKinley Washington, who held the seat 10 years before retiring in 2000, said the diverse district includes some of the Lowcountry’s richest and poorest residents. He said the seat is important because in the district’s majority Black communities, the sitting senator wields considerable political power.

Two of the candidates beat out the field to take a combined 72 percent of the total vote. Walterboro attorney Margie Bright Matthews received the highest percentage of votes with 37 percent. Jasper County Rep. Kenneth Hodges came in a close second with 35 percent of the vote. The two will meet in a September 15 run off election. The winner will face Republican Al Fernandez in the Oct. 20 special election.

Bright-Matthews, although expected to make a strong showing in the election, took an unexpected lead over Hodges, a 10-year veteran of the S.C. House of Representatives. He formerly ran for the seat against Pinckney.

Hodges had the endorsement of most local elected Democratic legislators including former Dist. 45 Sen. McKinley Washington, and Reps. Robert Brown and David Mack. Bright Matthews however won endorsements from Charleston County Democratic Party Chair Brady Quirk-Garvan.

Bright Matthews contributes her surprise showing to voters tired of the status quo in government and who want a new voices speaking on their behalf.

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