The GOP finally put up some good electoral news on Tuesday. Republican William Cogswell defeated Democrat John Tecklenburg to become the next mayor of Charleston, SC. Tecklenburg was a two-time incumbent and expected to win the race as it headed into a run-off following the November 7th general election.
What makes this such a big victory for Republicans is that Democrats had held the mayorship of Charleston since 1877, marking a major shift in fortunes.
FLIPPED: For the 1st time since 1877, Charleston, South Carolina, will have a Republican mayor.— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) November 22, 2023
Congratulations to Mayor-Elect William Cogswell.
He won by 569 votes & defeated a two-term incumbent. pic.twitter.com/bOWPKFBfSz
Voters in Charleston have chosen former State Representative William Cogswell to lead the city as its next mayor.
Unofficial results from the South Carolina Election Commission show Cogswell defeated incumbent John Tecklenburg, earning about 51 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s runoff election.
“The people have spoken and we’re ready, we’re ready for a new direction,” Cogswell said at his watch party in downtown Charleston shortly after declaring victory. “I am humbled by the results, no doubt. I am excited about the future of our city.”
It would be easy to dismiss this as a local race without much meaning. That would be a mistake given how the Carolinas have become far too close for comfort in national elections the last decade or so. Every win, especially one in a place that leans left like Charleston, is noteworthy and should be seen as a building block.
The continued nationalization of the GOP has been a gross strategic mistake. By that, I mean the fact that everything centers on presidential politics to the detriment of state and local-level mobilization. The result of that has been a sharp decrease in Republican control of governorships and state legislates. If you aren’t winning at those levels, you aren’t winning anything. Almost all policy that actually affects one’s day-to-day life happens at the state and local level.
Recall that during the Obama years, Republicans saw a massive advance outside of the White House. Without those victories providing much-needed boundaries around Washington’s greatest excesses, there would have been nothing left to recover after Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency.
Republicans have to get over their obsession with national politics and take a more holistic approach to advancing the conservative movement. I say that as someone who is just as guilty as anyone. If someone were to tell me I could have state and local control where I live for the next 40 years or the presidency for the same period of time, I’d take the former every day of the week. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do everything we can to win the White House. It is to say that if we forgo our own communities, what happens in Washington won’t matter. California and New York are perfect examples of that.