Through Dec. 30, we are looking back at some of the stories that made headlines in 2014 – and seeing how things played out.
Republicans expected to win South Carolina’s statewide races Nov. 4, but even veteran Palmetto politicos were surprised by the double-digit routs rolled up by the slate of GOP candidates.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, for example, tripled her victory margin over Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen from their first meeting four years earlier.
And Haley’s 14.5 percentage point victory over Sheheen was the smallest margin of victory by a Republican candidate running statewide last month. On average, Democratic candidates lost by 19 percentage points.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a North Charleston Republican who became the first African-American elected to the Senate from South Carolina, posted the largest victory margin — 24 percentage points.
South Carolina’s improving economy and Palmetto voters’ disapproval of Democratic President Barack Obama gave Republicans an extra push on Election Day.
The beatdowns left questions about the future of the state’s minority party. Leaders acknowledged it might take a decade for Democrats to become politically relevant again.
Having easily won re-election, Haley should look forward to easier legislative sessions during her second term. Why? Two of her nemeses, both Charleston Republicans, are now out of office. Former Senate leader Glenn McConnell took over the president’s office at the College of Charleston during the summer. And in the fall, former House Speaker Bobby Harrell left the State House in disgrace after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose GOP primary win in June swatted away talk about his vulnerability, is thinking big. The Seneca Republican and staple of the Sunday morning news shows is talking about running for president in 2016.