Gloria Tinubu is now the official Democratic nominee for the 7th Congressional District seat after a commanding victory in Tuesday’s runoff against Preston Brittain.
It was around 8:40 p.m., just an hour and 40 minutes after polls closed, when Brittain called Tinubu to concede the race.
Locally, Tinubu’s campaign was a machine. She won Horry County 4,321-1,329 and topped that with an astounding 2,580-373 victory in Georgetown County, although those numbers are unofficial.
. “We knew this would happen,” Tinubu said as she was hugging and thanking supporters after Brittain’s concession call.
More than 50 supporters gathered at Tinubu’s Conway campaign headquarters to eat, dance and show their support.
One of Tinubu’s supporters who couldn’t have been happier was 94-year-old Florence resident Evelyn Guile, who met the candidate at a church service around two months ago.
“She’s adopted me as her mother,” Guile said of Tinubu. “She’s very intelligent, she’s very knowledgeable ... and I think she has our best interests at heart.”
James Timmons, Tinubu’s hairdresser, said she has a “wonderful insight” of seeing what Horry County needs.
Tinubu spent Tuesday crisscrossing the 7th District in her campaign bus. Her message was simple – repeat history.
“We won before, let’s go out and win again,” Tinubu said after arriving at her Conway campaign headquarters shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
After conceding the race, Brittain thanked his supporters and said he supports Tinubu and that they share the same Democratic values.
“It’s been a wonderful campaign, and we have accomplished a lot,” Brittain told supporters, “but it’s about Gloria tonight. We’re proud of her and what she’s accomplished.”
Brittain’s election watching party started around 7:30 p.m. at his headquarters, 3401 N. Kings Highway, Suite D, in Myrtle Beach. Many well-wishers stopped in to show support, even though they couldn’t stay to see Brittain, who was expected around 8:15 p.m.
Brittain’s grandfather, “Big Tom” Brittain, a former pastor of Myrtle Beach’s First United Methodist Church, left before the younger Brittain appeared, but had a prayer with the crowd, saying no matter the outcome, they would accept the results of the runoff without worry.
Karen Mitchell, owner of The Chesterfield motel on Ocean Boulevard, was at the gathering and said she taught Preston and his two siblings at Myrtle Beach Middle School.
“They were all fine children and are fine adults,” said Mitchell, who said Preston had character and integrity even in sixth grade, as he was supportive of his classmates and wouldn’t tolerate knowing that anyone was mistreated.
“As a congressman, he would make us proud,” she said.
Tuesday’s Democratic runoff came with a truckload of controversy and uncertainty.
Tinubu initially was declared the winner of the June 12 primary, amassing 52 percent of the vote total.
What a judge ended up deciding is that the more than 2,300 votes cast for withdrawn candidate Ted Vick should have factored into that total, thereby leaving Tinubu with only 49 percent of the vote and requiring a runoff between her and second-place finisher Brittain.
A lawsuit was filed saying the S.C. Election Commission should have counted those votes. This led to a delay in getting absentee ballots out for the Republican runoff, as election offices in the eight-county 7th Congressional District were barred by a temporary restraining order from handing out ballots or preparing for the runoff in any way.
The restraining order was lifted Thursday, when the lawsuit was heard in a Georgetown County courtroom. On Friday, Judge Larry Hyman issued his ruling on the Democratic runoff, stating Vick’s votes should be counted.
This paved the way for the Election Commission to order a Democratic runoff.
Tuesday night, Brittain said that his campaign had accomplished a lot, especially pushing the runoff and showing that all votes need to be counted.
"What a great thing for this camp to accomplish," he said.
"I had hoped to be a trailblazer" he said, saying he had hoped the world didn’t want another career politician, but it’s not quite there yet.
While addressing her supporters, Tinubu kept referencing the three days her campaign had between Friday’s ruling and Tuesday’s runoff to galvanize her voting block once again.
“Some powerful things can happen in three days,” Tinubu said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 and VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401.