Charleston, SC Elects First GOP Mayor Since 1870s

Charleston, SC Elects First GOP Mayor Since 1870s

Charleston, South Carolina, has entered a new era with the election of its first Republican mayor since the Reconstruction Era of the 1870s.

William Cogswell, a former Republican state lawmaker, emerged victorious in Tuesday’s runoff, defeating incumbent Democratic Mayor John Tecklenburg by a margin of about 2 percentage points, as indicated by the South Carolina Election Commission.

The result, with a 569-vote gap between the candidates, follows Cogswell securing the most votes in the nonpartisan Nov. 7 general election but falling short of a majority, necessitating a runoff.

While Charleston’s municipal elections officially maintain a nonpartisan stance, Tecklenburg, a prominent figure in the state’s Democratic politics, endorsed Joe Biden in South Carolina’s pivotal 2020 presidential primary.

In contrast, Cogswell, 48, who served three terms as a Republican in the state House and identifies as a moderate, garnered support from key figures within South Carolina’s GOP, including Sen. Tim Scott. The historical significance of Cogswell’s victory is underscored by the fact that Charleston last elected a Republican mayor in the 1870s, according to available historical records.

In his victory statement, Cogswell emphasized a commitment to a new direction that goes beyond partisan labels, advocating for pragmatic solutions to address the city’s challenges. Meanwhile, Tecklenburg, in a gracious concession speech, hailed his eight years as mayor as “the honor of my life” and urged his supporters to throw their support behind the new mayor, emphasizing that when Mayor Cogswell succeeds, Charleston succeeds.

This marks the second instance in recent years where a reliably blue area in South Carolina, traditionally dominated by Republicans in congressional and statewide politics, has elected a Republican mayor, following Daniel Rickenmann’s 2021 victory in Columbia.


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