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Rickenmann wins runoff to become next mayor of Columbia

COLUMBIA (AP) — Daniel Rickenmann, a longtime city council member backed by Republicans, has been chosen as the mayor of South Carolina’s capital city, a victory that came despite heavy-hitting Democratic endorsements for his opponent.
Rickenmann won Tuesday’s runoff election over Tameika Isaac Devine, becoming only Columbia’s third mayor in just over 30 years. The businessman, who has owned several restaurants, said during his campaign that Columbia needed to work harder to be business friendly.
The two candidates, who have long served together on City Council, were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 2 election, although neither netted the majority needed to win it outright. Rickenmann received almost 44% of the vote in that balloting, while Devine finished second, with over 30%.
Columbia’s election was technically nonpartisan, although the runoff showdown drew familiar partisan divides: Rickenmann, a white man, drew broad support among conservatives, including the state Republican Party.
Devine, a Black woman, had backing from many of the area’s notable Democrats, including U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and former President Barack Obama, who recorded an audio message on her behalf.
Outgoing three-term Mayor Steve Benjamin initially endorsed his former aide, Sam Johnson, who placed third with 24% of votes cast in voting two weeks ago and also ultimately backed Devine in the runoff. Benjamin, who has been the city’s first Black mayor, opted not to seek another term after a decade in office.
Earlier Tuesday, the Election Commission ordered a hand-counted audit of some precincts which will likely take place Nov. 17, after reports of some polling problems.
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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

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