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SC lawmaker, ex-Columbia city councilwoman launch bids to succeed John Scott in Senate

The S.C. State House
Ron Cogswell

A special election to fill the S.C. Senate seat previously held by the late Sen. John Scott will be Jan. 2, 2024.

At least three Richland County Democrats have announced special election bids to fill the S.C. Senate seat previously held by Sen. John Scott, who died Aug. 13 at age 69.

State Rep. Kambrell Garvin, an attorney and former public school teacher first elected to the Statehouse in 2018, was the first elected official to formally launch a campaign Monday.

The 31-year-old lawmaker said in a statement Monday that if elected he hopes to bring a different perspective to the Senate.

“Sen. Scott was a mentor who taught me so much. I am forever grateful for his guidance, from my first campaign through my time in the State House," Garvin said. "I’m running to continue Senator Scott’s legacy of public service."

State Rep. Kambrell Garvin awaits the start of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Meg Kinnard/AP
State Rep. Kambrell Garvin awaits the start of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's State of the State address on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Tameika Isaac Devine, 50, who served on Columbia’s City Council for nearly 20 years and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2021, told SC Public Radio she is running for the Senate seat and will make an official announcement after Labor Day.

After her 2021 loss, Devine told supporters that while she no longer held an elected position in the city, her work in Columbia was not done.

If elected, Devine would be the Senate's sixth female senator.

Javar Juarez, senior director of the Broad River Business Alliance, launched his campaign this month.

"With me as your senator, transparency and genuine representation will be paramount, echoing the true voice of our community," Juarez said in a release.

Candidate filing for the northwestern Richland County seat opens noon Friday and runs through Sept. 9.

The primary will be Oct. 24, and a runoff, if necessary, will be Nov. 7.

Candidates will run per 2020 district lines in the Jan. 2 special election. The winner will be confirmed in time to start the 2024 session.

All 170 legislators are up for reelection in November 2024. Filing opens in March.

Tameika Isaac Devine
Courtesy of Tameika Isaac Devine
Tameika Isaac Devine

Senate President Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee, announced the open District 19 seat last week after Scott's death at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

A cause of death was not released, but Scott had been admitted to MUSC's cardiovascular unit, according to a Senate memo.

A 33-year veteran of the S.C. Statehouse, Scott started his legislative tenure in the House before he was elected to the Senate in 2008. Outside of the Senate, Scott ran a realty company and was involved in his church.

Separately, a special election will be held Sept. 5 to fill the Senate District 42seat vacated by former Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who stepped down early to take a job in the Biden administration.

Three House Democrats are in the race: State Reps. Wendell Gilliard, JA Moore and Deon Tedder. A runoff will be Sept. 19, if necessary.

The Democratic nominee will face Republican Rosa Kay in the Nov. 7 special election.

Editor's Note: Planning to file for the District 19 Senate race? Email Maayan Schechter at mschechter@scpublicradio.org.

Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) is a news reporter with South Carolina Public Radio and ETV. She worked at South Carolina newspapers for a decade, previously working as a reporter and then editor of The State’s S.C. State House and politics team, and as a reporter at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville in 2013.