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Henry McMaster Wins First Full Term As South Carolina Governor

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After the most expensive race in South Carolina history, Republican incumbent Henry McMaster beat out Democratic challenger James Smith.

Numbers released after precincts closed Tuesday night showed that McMaster won with 56 percent of the vote. The victory secures McMaster’s first full term in governor’s office after his promotion from lieutenant governor last year. The incumbent ran on a pro-Trump conservative platform, touting his White House endorsement to residents in a state where the president’s approval ratings are higher than the national overall rating.

Smith, a state House Representative for Richland County, tried to upend the incumbent to become the first Democrat to be elected to the Governor’s office since 1998. The veteran and small business owner ran a campaign focused on pushing the state in what he called a “new direction” by doing things like expanding Medicaid, legalizing medical marijuana and increasing gun safety.

The gubernatorial race wasn’t without its drama, starting with a bitter primary fight that forced McMaster into a runoff election. The two candidates also had to temporarily suspend campaigning when Hurricane Florence swept through the Carolinas.

But the obstacles didn’t keep the race from becoming the most expensive election in state history. The latest filings reported by the Post and Courier show that in total, the two candidates raised nearly $20.5 million in this year’s campaign — exceeding the $17.8 million raised in the 2010 gubernatorial election between Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen.

In South Carolina's 5th district race for the US House of Representatives, Republican incumbent Ralph Norman won re-election against Democrat Archie Parnell with 56.5 percent of the vote.