South Carolina Pastor Ivory Thigpen Wins House 79 Runoff; Says ‘This Is Not About Me, This Is About God’

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Northeast Richland voters overwhelmingly bought into Columbia pastor Ivory Thigpen’s platform of hope Tuesday.

Thigpen cruised to a landslide victory over Richland 2 school board member Monica Elkins in the House District 79 Democratic primary runoff, two weeks after finishing just 31 votes ahead of the former teacher and principal in a three-candidate June 14 primary.

“This is not about me. This is about God,” said Thigpen, pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church on Hardscrabble Road, who broke down in tears after just two precincts reported. “I’m humbled.”

Thigpen has said he felt called by God to run for the S.C. House after the massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston church last summer.

He ran on a pledge of healing racial tensions, opposing domestic and drug abuse, promoting public safety, and expanding funding for health care and education.

Thigpen said Tuesday’s results were only further confirmation that he was meant to fill the seat that state Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, is vacating to run for state Senate.

Some voters said Tuesday they wanted to put a “man of God” in the State House. Positive reviews of Thigpen’s work at Rehoboth and in the community only reinforced the choice, they said.

“I just wanted to support somebody who has strong religious values, who cares about the community,” said Harriett Shepherd, 54, a training manager at Palmetto GBA who voted at Ridge View High School. “If he can feed his flock, he can feed the community.”

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SOURCE: The State, Avery G. Wilks