Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott won a three-way primary for the District 117 seat Tuesday, virtually assuring that a black Republican will serve in the Statehouse for the first time since Reconstruction.
Scott captured about 53 percent of the vote in the district, which covers Berkeley and Charleston counties. Berkeley County Councilman Bill Crosby was second with 26 percent of the vote, while former state Rep. Wheeler Tillman had 21 percent, according to unofficial results.
Scott avoided a runoff by capturing both his home county and predominantly white Berkeley County, where 65 percent of the district's residents live. He faces no Democratic challenger in November, so the seat is essentially his.
Scott, who has served 13 years on Charleston County Council, was one of five black members of the GOP running for House and Senate seats this year. He is the only House candidate from that group without opposition in November.
Scott, 42, thanked God and a large team of diverse, hard-working volunteers for helping him win the contest. He said his election illustrates that the GOP is more interested in issues than race.
"What it says is that the Republican Party and the voters of the Republican Party are moving forward, and have been for a long time," he said. "This is merely a manifestation of that."
State Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson called Scott's win a "momentous election for South Carolina."
Crosby could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Tillman, a lawyer who served three terms in the District 117 House seat in the 1970s, said it was tough to compete in a "big-money, lopsided race" where Scott had all the cash.
Scott, who was endorsed by Gov. Mark Sanford, raised roughly 14 times the combined total of what Crosby and Tillman took in, or about $70,000, according to campaign finance reports.