Realtor Nancy Mace bested former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Mark Smith in a Republican runoff Tuesday to determine the GOP candidate in South Carolina's House District 99 race.
Mace garnered about 63 percent of the vote compared to Smith's 37 percent, according to unofficial results.
On a county-level, results show Smith defeated Mace in Charleston County by a 534-460 tally. But Mace won big in Berkeley County by a count of 1,235 to 478, according to unofficial returns.
Mace watched the results roll in at her Daniel Island home, where she was surrounded by family and friends. Her campaign released a victory statement about an hour after polls closed.
"I'm truly honored with tonight's win. I want to thank those who ran in this primary — particularly Shawn Pinkston for his support," Mace said, referring to her former competitor in the race. "The vision I shared with voters, whether it’s getting ahead of our infrastructure needs, improving roads, being a fiscal conservative, recognizing tax dollars are sacred will continue to be my message as we move forward to the General Election in January."
Mace is the first woman to graduate from The Citadel's Corps of Cadets.
Mace's victory puts her in a Jan. 16 battle with Democrat Cindy Boatwright that will determine who fills the seat formerly held by Rep. Jim Merrill, who resigned before pleading guilty in the South Carolina Statehouse probe.
"Nancy Mace is totally unfit to represent our community in the Statehouse," Boatwright said in a statement after Mace's win. "I believe that we need a legislator with a strong moral compass who will serve the voters of District 99 with honesty and integrity."
The district covers parts of Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, the Cainhoy peninsula, Hanahan and Goose Creek.
On his campaign's Facebook page Tuesday night, Smith promised to continue serving the community through various service organizations and in his role as chairman of the advisory committee of South Carolina Office on Aging.
"To our incredible supporters who gave time, talent and resources to our effort — I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your prayers and encouragement during this campaign have meant more to Elayne, the boys and me than you will ever know," he wrote.
He ended his post with, "Congratulations, Nancy. I wish you well."
Voter turnout for the runoff was better than anticipated but still considered light. By the early afternoon, close to 600 ballots had been cast in Charleston County, according to Joe Debney, director of Charleston County’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration.
Berkeley County elections director Adam Hammons said Berkeley's 13 precincts saw turnout similar to the GOP primary held two weeks ago. That's surprising, he said, given that the runoff took place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
"There's definitely a drop-off, but it's not the drastic kind you would expect to see," he said.