The race for Columbia City Council in District 3 is beginning to heat up, as one of the two challengers to incumbent Moe Baddourah has picked up a key endorsement from a state legislator and the other has hit TV airwaves with a new ad.
Baddourah is being tested by construction and design firm owner Will Brennan and public charter school principal John Loveday. Both of the challengers are sinking considerable resources into their city campaigns and have seen support from political power players.
Democratic District 72 state Rep. Seth Rose, whose House district significantly overlaps with City Council’s District 3, is endorsing Brennan in the Council race. In a campaign mailer hitting District 3 mailboxes this week, Rose says he thinks Brennan is the “best choice” for the District 3 seat.
“When it comes to political races, it’s rare for me to issue endorsements,” Rose says in the mailer. “But this year’s District 3 election is too important to stay on the sidelines. … I have known Will for years. I know he will stand up and fight for the best interests of everyone.”
Rose is in his first term as District 72’s House representative. Prior to that, the attorney and former University of South Carolina tennis star served two terms as a Richland County Council member in District 5. When Rose moved on to the Legislature from County Council in 2018, Brennan ran for the District 5 County Council seat, but was defeated by Allison Terracio in a hotly contested Democratic primary. Rose did not endorse in that County Council primary.
While Rose’s endorsement is notable because of the overlap between the legislator’s House district and City Council’s District 3, Loveday hasn’t been without his own eyebrow-raising support. Former state representative and current CNN pundit Bakari Sellers is endorsing Loveday. So is firebrand attorney and first-term state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, whose Senate District 20 also has some overlap with City Council District 3.
Now Loveday is set to take his message to TV airwaves, with a commercial hitting stations in the Columbia market beginning Oct. 15. Loveday’s campaign says he spent roughly $40,000 to have the campaign ad on TV for the next three weeks ahead of the Nov. 5 municipal election.
In the new spot, Loveday says he’ll focus on public safety and better roads, and also jabs at Baddourah over the councilman’s long suspension in the midst of his current term.
Baddourah was arrested in July 2016 and charged with criminal domestic violence after allegedly hitting his then-wife with a car door in the parking lot of a restaurant. Subsequently, he was suspended from office in March 2017 by Gov. Henry McMaster, and remained suspended for a year and a half while his case was pending in court. Baddourah entered pre-trial intervention in the case in September 2018, and was reinstated by McMaster a month later.
Baddourah has been issuing mailers in his bid for a third term on Council, and word has been filtering through city political circles about his prodigious door-to-door campaign efforts. He was not in attendance at a recent Columbia Chamber forum for candidates.
Meanwhile, Brennan and Loveday have continued to raise considerable campaign cash for the District 3 race.
According to South Carolina Ethics Commission records, Loveday raised $18,519 during the recent July through September quarter, and has hauled in $78,700 for the election cycle, so far. Among his notable donors for the most recent quarter were state Sen. Marlon Kimpson ($100), businesswoman and likely state House District 75 candidate Heather Bauer ($150) and M.B. Kahn Construction Co. ($250), among others.
Ethics Commission reporting shows that Brennan received $16,315 in campaign donations in the most recent quarter, and has raised $60,000 for the election cycle. Some of his donors included attorney Luther Batiste ($150), businessman Tom Prioreschi ($250) and businesswoman Martha Fowler ($100).
Baddourah filed his most recent quarterly funding report on Oct. 15. [This story was initially published before he had made his report.] The second-term incumbent raised $9,894 during the July-September timeframe, and has raised $22,500 for the election cycle. Among Baddourah's notable donors were the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association ($500) and engineering consulting firm Chao and Associates ($250).
The District 3 race is one of three City Council races on the ballot for Nov. 5 election.
At-large Councilman Howard Duvall is being challenged by attorney Sara Middleton, refugee services coordinator Dylan Gunnels and former victims advocacy coordinator Amadeo Geere.
In District 2, incumbent Ed McDowell is facing activist and author Catherine Fleming Bruce and businesswoman Anna Fonseca.