Democrat Marlon Kimpson breezed to victory Tuesday in the special election to fill the state Senate held by Robert Ford.
Kimpson bested Republican Billy Shuman by a 4-1 margin. Libertarian candidate Alex Thornton received about 1 percent.
“Tonight, the people have spoken, and 80 percent of the voters want to take the district in a new direction,” Kimpson told a roomful of more than 100 cheering supporters.
Turnout was about 13 percent among District 42 voters, who are in parts of West Ashley, peninsular Charleston and North Charleston.
The outcome was widely expected. Kimpson had proven his ability to get votes with strong showings in both the Aug. 13 Democratic primary and the runoff two weeks later. On Aug. 27, he got 3,111 votes —or 70 percent — to challenger Maurice Washington’s 30 percent.
Also, Kimpson showed an impressive ability to raise money — more than $177,700.
Shuman raised $37,055, while Thornton raised only $1,945.
And Kimpson was the only black candidate on the ballot Tuesday, and the district has almost twice as many black registered voters as white voters. The last six weeks of campaigning were relatively low key — at least in the news media — with the candidates mostly sending out mail and going door to door to rev up their base. Kimpson held a big rally Saturday with Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Vincent Sheheen and others.
One thing Kimpson lacked was the support of Ford, who backed another Democrat in the primary and then endorsed Shuman at the last minute. Ford resigned in May amid ethical problems, triggering the special election.
Kimpson did not address Ford by name but said, “The people deserve integrity in this seat, and I will work hard to preserve the public trust.”
Before Kimpson took the stage, the speakers blared out Stevie Wonder’s hit “Sir Duke,” while images of Kimpson, President Barack Obama and Gov. Nikki Haley flashed on the screen, along with photos from a controversial Stratford High School drug raid.
Kimpson represented some of those students forced onto the ground by police and police dogs in a big drug raid that uncovered no drugs.
“In essence, my campaign was about restoring the dignity to the public education system,” Kimpson said. “Marlon Kimpson went to public school. I believe in public education.”
Election officials reported no glitches in the voting Tuesday, including no problems with the state’s controversial new Voter ID rule, which requires voters to present a photo identification or sign a form explaining why they can’t.
Kimpson referred to the law when ending his victory speech, saying he would keep an eye on efforts to add new obstacles to voting here. “Our voting rights are at stake,” he said.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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