Deep South City Elects GOP Leader In Historic Move

For the first time since back in the Reconstruction Era, the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, has elected the first Republican to represent it as mayor.

Former state lawmaker William Cogswell defeated the incumbent mayor, Democrat John Tecklenburg, by roughly 2% in the runoff election, which was held on Tuesday. The results were reported by the South Carolina Election Commission.

The margin of victory was only 569 total votes, according to the final vote tally that the commission posted online.

The 48-year-old Cogswell actually garnered the most votes during the general election that was held back on November 7. However, he wasn’t able to capture a majority of the votes, which led to the runoff election between him and the incumbent Tecklenburg.

While the municipal elections in Charleston are technically non-partisan, Tecklenburg is a prominent figure in Democratic politics in South Carolina. He publicly endorsed President Joe Biden leading up to the 2020 presidential primary in the state.

Cogswell, meanwhile, served as a Republican in the South Carolina state House for three terms. He says that he’s a moderate Republican, and has received endorsements from many other prominent figures in the state GOP, including Senator Tim Scott, who until recently was a GOP candidate for president.

The last time that Charleston residents elected a Republican to be their mayor was during the 1870s.

Following his win, Cogswell made a statement on Tuesday night, saying:

“We can confidently say that I’m going to be the next mayor. The people have spoken, and we’re ready for a new direction … a new direction that puts labels aside, so that we can find pragmatic solutions to our problems.”

Tecklenburg gave a concession speech that same night, saying that the eight years he served as Charleston mayor were “the honor of my life.” He even took the high road and asked all of his supporters to rally around Cogswell as the city’s new mayor.

He said:

“I’d like to congratulate our new Mayor-Elect William Cogswell … and I’d like to ask each and every Charlestonian, everybody out there, to give him your support. When Mayor Cogswell succeeds, Charleston succeeds, and that’s something we’re all in favor of.”

Charleston has been one of the few areas of the red state of South Carolina to be a reliable blue area for Democrats. Yet, the city’s residents have now flipped from tradition and elected a Republican mayor.

The same thing happened in the state capital of Columbia in 2021, when Daniel Rickenmann won election as the mayor of the city.

From a statewide perspective, South Carolina has long been considered a shoe-in state for any Republican presidential candidate. Local politics are slightly different, though, with two of the state’s three main cities leaning left in the recent past.

And while Charleston electing a Republican mayor won’t have much of an effect on national politics at all, it does show that more and more residents of the state are fed up with liberal policies.