State Rep. John King of Rock Hill – the only Democrat elected to the state legislature from York County – will serve a fourth term after beating Republican challenger Robert Walker on Tuesday night, according to unofficial poll results.
Walker’s run against the 38-year-old King this year was the first time King has faced general election opposition since he first won his house seat in 2008.
With all but one voting precinct reporting numbers late Tuesday night, King appeared to have won by nearly a two-to-one margin. York County election officials will certify votes and announce official results later this week.
“It means a lot to me that the people of District 49 have that confidence in me,” King said late Tuesday. He said he will continue to represent local interests in the state capital as well as African-American residents from neighboring counties who do not have African-American elected leaders.
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King’s District 49 includes homes in Rock Hill’s southern reaches, from the city’s downtown to neighborhoods in the Ogden and Mt. Holly areas. The district also includes a small portion of York.
King is originally from Chester. He lives in Rock Hill and owns and operates his family’s funeral home business and a bail bondsman service.
Walker, age 49, of the Rock Hill area, owns a medical consultant firm. He’s a Rock Hill-York County Convention and Visitors Bureau board member and has previously been appointed to two county commissions.
Some voters in Rock Hill on Tuesday afternoon said they were comfortable re-electing King because he’s been visible in the community and listens to constituents.
“He’s the type of person who can get the attention of anyone,” said 43-year-old voter Paula Toms.
Toms attends Freedom Temple church in downtown Rock Hill with King. A Democrat working in a Republican-controlled legislature, King is flexible enough with fellow lawmakers to get things done, Toms said.
Two other S.C. House incumbents from York County also held onto their seats on Tuesday night.
Unofficial results showed S.C. Rep. Raye Felder, R-Fort Mill, handily beat Libertarian candidate Jeremy Walters in the District 26 race. Felder will soon start her second term after capturing nearly three times as many votes as Walters.
Felder, age 52, owns a small insurance business. Walters, age 43, is vice chairman of the South Carolina Libertarian Party and works as a carpenter.
District 26 includes Fort Mill and part of Rock Hill, around Cherry Road and the Riverwalk development. The district was established for the 2012 election, after the 2010 census and the redrawing of House district lines in South Carolina.
Felder and Walters first went toe-to-toe two years ago when Felder narrowly won her first bid for statewide office.
In a landslide win on Tuesday, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, was re-elected to a fourth term in District 48. He beat Democrat Barry McGrew, who did little campaigning after filing to run in March.
Norman, 61, is a real estate developer. His district includes the Tega Cay, River Hills and Lake Wylie areas near the North Carolina border, as well as parts of northern Rock Hill.
King, Felder and Norman’s successful re-election campaigns guarantee them each another two years in office. The new legislative term begins in January.
South Carolina legislators are paid $10,400 a year and are given a $1,000 monthly allowance to operate their office and serve constituents.