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Setzler seems to prevail in close race for South Carolina Senate District 26

West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) - South Carolina State Senator Nikki Setzler seems to have prevailed in his bid to retaining the SC State Senate seat he’s held for the past 44 years. Setzler of SC Senate District 26 is the only Democrat that lives in a Lexington County that holds an elected position. District 26 includes parts of Lexington, Aiken, Saluda, and Calhoun Counties. The word “seems” is used because at 1:27 a.m. Wednesday, only 50% of the votes had been counted according to scvotes.org.

Setzler’s challenger Chris Smith is an evangelical Christian that is a passionate Conservative Republican. He hammered Setzler for his lack of support for the Heartbeat Bill, a bill to limit abortions, and for his more liberal voting record on spending and other issues in the past. Smith said that people in the district often told him that Setzler was a, "Nice guy," but couldn't offer much more than that as the reason they had voted for him over and over.

Smith gave Setzler a strong challenge but fell short in the end. Smith worked diligently but spent little money on his campaign. He preferred grassroots campaigning and worked hard throughout the district often going door to door and attending community events asking people for their votes. Smith was also counting on a heavy straight Republican Party vote and the strong support of evangelical Christians to get out and vote his way in the hotly contested race.

Setzler bought expensive media time and flooded mailboxes with informative mailers informing voters why they should vote for him. He also called on the many friends he has made over his 44 years of service to carry him back into office for four more years. He too was seen at many events throughout the district where he reminded voters of all he had done for them over the decades. State reports indicate that Setzler spent in excess of $200,000 on his reelection campaign to stave off Smith.

When the votes from 50% of the district’s precincts were counted after Tuesday’s election, Setzler had received 20,242 or 52.96 % which was enough to hold off his challenger. Smith had 17,946 ballots cast in his favor that equaled 46.95 % of the total ballots cast. These numbers could change as the remainder of the votes are counted but Setzler held a comfortable lead throughout Tuesday night and a win by Smith is unlikely. Smith was winning Calhoun County as of 4:00 a.m. Wednesday.

This was surely one of the most difficult challenges that Setzler has since he was elected over four decades ago. It is worth noting that Smith had spent less that one tenth of what Setzler had on the campaign as the voting began Tuesday.

As a reminder, the mail-in absentee ballots were not shown in these totals. On the Registration & Elections Commission's website, those aren't shown as being counted in any race. Those votes may have been added to the column of absentee votes that were made in person. It doesn’t appear as if they would change the totals enough to upset the election's winning order.

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