by Chris Haire
Let it be known from now until the end of time that Election Day 2012 was a snoozer, a nasty-ass vodka tonic and Ambien cocktail. And it's amazing that any of us awoke the next day.
However, there was one Election Day shocker, one little blip on the statewide radar that briefly quickened the pulses of political junkies. Katrina Shealy defeated long-time state Sen. Jake E. Knotts, the rotund Midland good ol' thug who called Nikki Haley a "raghead" and who has long been a Statehouse embarrassment, even if you manage to overlook his long-standing bromance with former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. But what makes Shealy's victory over Knotts truly remarkable is the fact that she was a petition candidate. Like 200 others, Shealy had been tossed off the ballot earlier in the year. So kudos to her even if she's Tea Partier. Ding dong, the Big Boy bigot is done.
Locally, the Paul Thurmond-Paul Tinkler race seemed like it might get really interesting. On Election Night it was pretty clear that Thurmond had the lead over Tinkler — the race between the two had gotten oddly contentious as we got closer to E.D. 2012 — but Strom's son wasn't declared the winner until the next day, winning 55.74 percent of the vote.
Truth be told, the only other race that was even a little bit exciting was the showdown for Charleston County Auditor. Yes, you heard that right. And in that one the Democrat, Peter Tecklenberg, defeated Republican Paul Gawrych, who had earlier beaten long-time auditor Peggy Moseley in the GOP primary. The choice was easy for anybody who had seen Gawrych's campaign signs which proclaimed that he was for "higher standards, lower taxes." Apparently, nobody bothered to tell him that the auditor sends out tax bills. He doesn't have the ability to raise or lower taxes.
Around the Holy City and the state, most other incumbents cruised to easy victories on Election Day thanks to the Ballotgate candidate purge, with many bringing in impressive voter percentages in the upper 90s, we're talking about guys like Mike Sottile, Wendell Gilliard, Chip Limehouse, Leon Starinakis, Vincent Sheheen, and Larry Grooms.
However, not every incumbent made it through the day so easily. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell only captured 74 percent of the vote against petition candidate John Steinberger and Green Partier Larry Carter Center. Now, this may have had something to do with Harrell's recent campaign reimbursement troubles or it could've been because Steinberger had a couple thousand buddies who wanted to give him and Election Day participation trophy. Who knows?
Tim Scott squeaked out an even smaller margin of victory against first timer Bobby Rose, who managed to capture 33.52 percent of the vote, giving the Republican darling 62.33 percent of the vote. Of course, this doesn't mean that Scott is in any bit of trouble. With 62.33 percent of the vote, Scott trounced his opponent. It's just yet another example of the Democrats fielding an older sacrificial candidate instead of a young up-and-comer to take on a GOP superstar. (See Vic Rawl in the 2010 U.S. Senate race for Jim DeMint's seat and Alex Sanders against Lindsey Graham in the 2002 Senate race.)
Here's hoping that Election 2014 is a little more fun. Here hoping for a Nikki Haley-Vincent Sheheen rematch.
For more fun, check out these articles:
Katrina Shealy (State Senate District 23)
Shealy says she will vote to loosen gun laws, give tax credits for private schools - The State
Woman breaks into South Carolina's all-male Senate - USA Today/AP
Shealy knocks off Knotts in Lexington to become only woman in Senate - The State
It's the end of the road for Jake Knotts [VIDEO] - WIS-TV
Paul Thurmond (State Senate District 41)
A new Sen. Thurmond? Former Chas. County councilman likely replacing McConnell - Post and Courier
Final Election Day results are becoming clear - Post and Courier
Paul Thurmond reacts to election [VIDEO] - Count on 2
Thurmond defeats Tinkler, wins District 41 seat - Live 5 News