Although all 124 South Carolina House of Representative seats are up for election this year, only a few are actually competitive races this Election Day.
As the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, here are some notable House races to watch:
—- There is a pair of tight races in Columbia, as the GOP hopes to hang on to both seats. Rep. Joan Brady (R-Columbia) is trying to head off a strong challenge by Democratic attorney Beth Bernstein. Brady has served in the House since 2005 and has a reputation as a moderate Republican in that chamber. Bernstein has focused on ethics reform in her campaign and has criticized Brady’s role on the House Ethics Committee for clearing Gov. Nikki Haley earlier this year.
The other close race in Columbia is to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jim Harrison. Former Republican Columbia councilman Kirkman Finlay takes on Democratic lawyer Joe McCulloch, who is seeking office for the first time. Finlay is the son of Columbia’s former mayor and owns several restaurants in the city.
—- While Democrats are eyeing gains in the Midlands, Republicans are hoping to pick off a few rural seats this year. One seat they believe is particularly vulnerable is District 53 belonging to Rep. Ted Vick (D-Chesterfield). Vick, who considers himself a conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat, has represented the area since 2005 and is one of the more influential Democrats in the State House. But then he was arrested on a DUI charge in May, and officers also said he had an expired concealed weapons permit and a 21-year-old woman in the car with him.
Since then, there has been backlash against Vick— but it is divided between Republican Richie Yow and petition candidate Phil Powell. Yow is a retired Air Force engineer, while Powell is a retired Cheraw parks and recreation official who still works part-time with the state Department of Transportation.
In Dorchester County, State Rep. Patsy Knight (D-St. George) is fighting for her political life in a district that has grown more conservative in recent years. Redistricting and growth from the Charleston metro area have made the rural district more suburban, and brought changing demographics with it. Hoping to take advantage of that is Republican Ed Carter, a real estate appraiser.
—- The most bizarre race is House District 3 in Pickens County, where the Republican incumbent B.R. Skelton (R-Six Mile) will face the man who beat him in the June primary. Businessman Ed Harris won the GOP primary by just 43 votes, but Skelton challenged the result, arguing that Harris had not properly filled out his financial paperwork. The South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee reluctantly sided with Skelton, but then helped organize Harris’s petition candidacy and later endorsed it. The two are now facing off for a second time Tuesday.
—- In Charleston, State Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) is facing Carol Tempel, a Democrat who is running as a petition candidate after she was one of over 250 candidates ordered off the ballot due to paperwork issues. The area is considered a “swing” district (McCoy knocked off a Democratic incumbent in 2010), but became more conservative after last year’s redistricting.