Democrat Heather Bauer declares victory over Republican Kirkman Finlay in House District 75 race

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Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 8:26 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Democrats appear poised to flip a State House seat that has been held by Republican Kirkman Finlay for the last decade.

Heather Bauer has a 234-vote lead over Finlay for the District 75 House seat.

The AP has not called the race, but Bauer claimed victory Wednesday.

“This race proves a very big point that if you take our rights, we’ll take your seat,” Bauer said. “I hope that this campaign can be a good strategy for the Democrats across the state to prove a point in the next session.”

Bauer, a small business owner, would be the only Democrat to flip a Republican-held seat in South Carolina during this election, in what was otherwise a strong showing for the GOP.

“That’s been a district that we’ve never won by large margins,” SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick said. “It’s been several hundred votes just about in every single election, every cycle.”

Republicans are set to flip eight State House seats and seven county council seats when Tuesday’s results are certified.

The State House wins would give the GOP a supermajority in the House.

“It was a resounding rejection of the Democrats’ message here in South Carolina,” McKissick said. “We’ve seen them go woke crazy nationally, and it is turning regular Americans off. They didn’t focus on the issues that were relevant and important to people.”

Bauer’s campaign centered on abortion rights. She tied Finlay to efforts by Republicans to further restrict abortion access in the state.

“I was not surprised,” Bauer said about the results. “This is the main issue we ran on the entire campaign, it is why people came out and voted. And that’s shown across the country that campaigns that focus on abortion rights and women’s right to choose won across the country.”

McKissick said some of Bauer’s attacks on Finlay were “disingenuous,” given that he did not vote on the final version of a bill that passed the House in august, which banned nearly all abortions.

“Kirkman has been a pro-choice Republican,” he said. “He did not vote on those bills, and routinely doesn’t vote on those bills and has not, and they were sending out mail claiming that he was supporting a radical pro-life agenda, which was totally not true.”

Finlay is a prominent small business owner in Columbia. He manages Doc’s BBQ, Millstone at Adams Pond, and Pawleys Front Porch in Five Points. He previously served on Columbia City Council.

Finlay Park is named after his father, former Columbia mayor Kirkman Finlay Jr.

Bauer previously ran for the District 75 seat but was defeated in the primary. She also ran unsuccessfully for Columbia City Council last year.

Bauer said Finlay has not called her to concede the race.

The SCGOP said it will contest the race until certification.

“You hate to get that close and if it slips away, I hope it doesn’t, and we’re going to contest it all the way to the end,” McKissick said.

County boards of voter registration and elections certify the results on Friday. The South Carolina Election Commission certifies them on Thursday, November 17.

House District 75 covers Forest Acres and parts of the Shandon and Rosewood neighborhoods.

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