Northeast Richland voters overwhelmingly bought into Columbia pastor Ivory Thigpen’s platform of hope Tuesday.
Thigpen cruised to a landslide victory over Richland 2 school board member Monica Elkins in the House District 79 Democratic primary runoff, two weeks after finishing just 31 votes ahead of the former teacher and principal in a three-candidate June 14 primary.
“This is not about me. This is about God,” said Thigpen, pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church on Hardscrabble Road, who broke down in tears after just two precincts reported. “I’m humbled.”
This is not about me. This is about God.”
Columbia pastor Ivory Thigpen
Never miss a local story.
Thigpen has said he felt called by God to run for the S.C. House after the massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston church last summer.
He ran on a pledge of healing racial tensions, opposing domestic and drug abuse, promoting public safety, and expanding funding for health care and education.
Thigpen said Tuesday’s results were only further confirmation that he was meant to fill the seat that state Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is vacating to run for state Senate.
Some voters said Tuesday they wanted to put a “man of God” in the State House. Positive reviews of Thigpen’s work at Rehoboth and in the community only reinforced the choice, they said.
“I just wanted to support somebody who has strong religious values, who cares about the community,” said Harriett Shepherd, 54, a training manager at Palmetto GBA who voted at Ridge View High School. “If he can feed his flock, he can feed the community.”
State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said Thigpen will be an asset to the State House as a pastor on the “front lines” of his community and a chiropractor with a provider’s perspective to health-care discussions.
Being a minister and a pastor helps him a lot. We have to face people’s problems every day.”
State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland
“Being a minister and a pastor helps him a lot,” said Jackson, who also is a pastor and endorsed Thigpen. “We have to face people’s problems every day.”
Elkins, who had promised to give educators a voice in the State House, said Tuesday night she was shocked at the results, adding she wished more voters had turned out.
Both candidates had circled back to their supporters over the past two weeks, hoping to push them back to the polls to capitalize on the small turnout.
Elkins said her advocacy work in Northeast Richland won’t stop. She already has filed to run this fall for a second term on the Richland 2 school board.
“You can’t keep a good woman, a strong woman down,” Elkins said.
You can’t keep a good woman, a strong woman down.”
Richland 2 school board member Monica Elkins
Thigpen will face Republican Donald Miles and Libertarian Victor Kocher in the Nov. 8 general election.
House District 79
Democratic primary runoff
15 of 15 precincts
Ivory Thigpen: 1,275
Monica Elkins: 721