WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott won his first full, six-year term, and Upstate U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney held off a well-funded Democratic challenger as all the state's incumbents appeared headed to re-election.
Charleston's 1st District Republican Rep. Mark Sanford also appeared headed toward another term, though his race and others in the state saw final returns come in slowly Tuesday.
With all eyes focused on the presidential race, the Scott and Mulvaney contest drew the biggest headlines when it came to South Carolina's congressional battles. Scott and Mulvaney, both Republican incumbents, defeated Democratic newcomers Thomas Dixon and Fran Person, respectively.
With 30 of 46 counties reporting, Scott was leading Dixon 59 percent to 35 percent in his statewide race. His victory was called at 7 p.m., just after the polls closed.
Mulvaney was prevailing over Person 59 percent to 39 percent, according to unofficial results and with five of nine counties reporting.
Dixon, a pastor and community activist who also garnered 2 percent in his capacity as a candidate on the Working Families ticket, was a long-shot contender. He cast himself as the progressive alternative to Scott, the first black Republican elected to represent South Carolina in the Senate since Reconstruction.
Scott was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by Gov. Nikki Haley after Jim DeMint retired. He then had to win a special election in 2014 to fill out the rest of DeMint's term.
Person ran the only arguably competitive congressional race in the state this cycle. A former University of South Carolina football player, he had backing from the national Democratic Party and his longtime boss, Vice President Joe Biden, who came to campaign for him on multiple occasions.
Elsewhere, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the third-ranking House Democrat and highest-ranking black lawmaker on Capitol Hill, won a 13th term in the state's 6th District, leading Republican Laura Sterling 67 percent to 30 percent, according to unofficial results.
For Sanford, unofficial results showed him prevailing over progressive activist Dimitri Cherny by a 60 to 32 percent margin. Sanford won his 1st Congressional District seat in a 2013 special election after Scott was elevated to the Senate. It's the same seat Sanford held for three terms in the 1990s before he became a two-term governor.
The remaining Republican incumbents in the S.C. delegation will also return to Washington, D.C., in January, according to unofficial results:
- Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg led Democrat Chris Fedalei 67 percent to 30 percent, with neither of the district's two counties fully reporting by press time.
- Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of Laurens led Democrat Hosea Cleveland 73 percent to 27 percent, with eight of 10 counties reporting.
- Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rice led Democrat Mal Hyman 54 percent to 44 percent, with five of the eight counties reporting.
- Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson led Democrat Arik Bjorn 59 percent to 37 percent, with three of five counties reporting.