A Republican businessman won Tuesday in a run-off election to be the next mayor of Columbia, South Carolina — a city that has voted reliably Democrat for several decades.
Making the victory all the more remarkable for Mayor-elect Daniel Rickenmann is the fact that his Democratic opponent, Tameika Isaac Devine, had the backing of prominent national Dems including former President Barack Obama, as the Associated Press reported.
In fact, Obama went so far as to record an audio message in support of Devine’s campaign, which also received public endorsements from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and outgoing Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin (D), among other top Dems in the state.
Nevertheless, and in spite of such major backing for Devine from the former president, Rickenmann prevailed over Devine by a margin of 52% to 48%.
Obama’s endorsement not enough
The significance of Obama’s failure to help push Devine across the finish line in the Columbia mayoral race was laid bare by The Washington Free Beacon, which brought to light the tendency of voters there to lean left.
In fact, Obama himself won the county in which Columbia is located by 29 points in 2008, and by 33 points in 2012. Fox News reported that President Joe Biden had carried that county by 40 points in the 2020 election.
Likewise, the Free Beacon noted that Rep. Clyburn, who also endorsed Devine and has represented the district containing Columbia since 1993, was overwhelmingly re-elected in the last election by almost 38 points.
Another sign of a “red wave” in 2022?
According to Fox, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), asserted that Rickenmann’s surprise victory in Columbia just serves as further evidence of an impending “red wave” in the upcoming 2022 elections — a sentiment echoed by the chair of the South Carolina GOP, Drew McKissick.
In a statement celebrating the mayoral win, McKissick argued it’s “safe to say the red wave is bigger than ever, and we eagerly expect to continue beating Democrats across South Carolina in 2022.”
“South Carolina voters have proven yet again they reject Democrat agendas,” he said, according to the Free Beacon. “After Democrats pulled out all the stops with [DNC chair] Jaime Harrison and the [Democratic National Committee] and Barack Obama, they still lost.”
South Carolina’s The State reported that Rickenmann said he was “overwhelmed” by the support he received in the race against Devine, who along with Rickenmann has served on the Columbia city council for many years.
For her part, Devine appeared to concede defeat Tuesday night but vowed to continue working and fighting on behalf of the city’s residents from outside of any elected office.