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SC’s State Senate Will Now Have Six Women

Originally published by Joseph Bustos for The State

South Carolina’s state Senate will now have six women. On Tuesday, voters in state Senate District 19 elected Columbia Democrat Tameika Isaac Devine to complete the final year of the late John Scott’s term in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. According to Tuesday’s unofficial results with all 39 precincts reporting, Devine carried 85.96% of the vote for the district that covers northwest Richland County. Republican Kizzie Smalls carried 9.65% of the vote.

Independent Michael A. Addison, of Columbia, received 2.71% of the vote. United Citizens Party candidate Chris Nelums received 1.6% of the vote. To hold on to the seat for a full term, Devine will have to run again this year when the entire state Senate is up for election. Legislative primary elections are scheduled for June, with the general election in November. Devine, a lawyer and former longtime Columbia City Council member, ran for mayor of the capital city in 2021 before losing to Daniel Rickenmann. She now becomes the sixth female senator in the State House’s upper chamber, joining state Sens. Penry Gustafson, R-Kershaw; Margie Bright Matthews, D-Colleton; Mia McLeod, I-Richland; Sandy Senn, R-Charleston; and Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington.

“Part of who I am is a Black woman, unapologetically Black woman,” Devine said. “That experience I’m bringing there I think is critically important to have that kind of diversity and that kind of experience where we’re making policy decisions on the things that matter to South Carolinians.” Devine now joins a chamber that operates on seniority. She will rank 46th out of 46 senators. She said she has already spoken to leadership in the chamber to begin to build relationships with other lawmakers. “I’m going to go in wanting to work with everybody and understanding the role that I play and what these voters are sending me there to do. And so, yes, I’m going to work across the aisle. So I’m going to work with the delegation, and in the caucus on making sure that we have priorities and that I am the voice in the Senate to help elevate those priorities,” Devine said. “It’s going to be about relationships. I’ve done that my entire career, building relationships and getting things done.”

The final stretch of the District 19 special election came during the holiday season, a time when many people were not paying attention to electoral politics or were traveling, making campaigning a challenge. Devine said her advertisements were more targeted on social media ahead of the election to people who live in the district. She added her campaign was knocking on doors and sending out mailers and making phone calls to voters.

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