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Reichenbach wins Republican primary for Leatherman's seat

Obit-Hugh Leatherman
Mary Ann Chastain/AP
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2015 file photo, from left, Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and Sen. Harvey Peeler listen during a joint session of South Carolina legislature at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, died Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 at the age of 90.

A political newcomer who owns car dealerships beat a member of the South Carolina House to win the Republican nomination for a state Senate seat left open when Sen. Hugh Leatherman died.

Mike Reichenbach received 53% of the vote in Tuesday's primary, while Rep. Jay Jordan received 47%.

Reichenbach, 50, will face Democrat and social worker Suzanne La Rochelle in the special election for the seat which covers much of Florence County and part of Darlington County on March 29. Donald Trump won the district by 18 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election.

If elected, Reichenbach would be the only Black Republican senator in the General Assembly.

Along with his car dealerships, Reichenbach has worked as a state constable and a game warden.

Reichenbach spent at least $100,000 of his own money on the race and took out a $150,000 loan for his campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

Jordan has been in the South Carolina House for six years and was in charge of his chamber's committee drawing new districts for the state House, Senate and U.S. House.

The seat came open in November when Leatherman died after more than 40 years in the state Senate.