South Carolina will soon have a new state senator, and he will be the youngest person serving in that role. State Rep. Deon Tedder, a 33-year-old lawyer from North Charleston, won a special election on Nov. 7 to fill an open seat in the South Carolina Senate. When he takes office in January, Tedder will bring youth and a reformist mindset to the South Carolina legislature’s upper chamber.
Tedder, first elected as a state representative in 2020, entered the special election to replace Marlon Kimpson, who left after a decade to take a position in the Biden administration. Kimpson endorsed Tedder, as did powerful Democratic South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, who called Tedder “a fighter” and “the candidate who has the passion to make a difference.” With these endorsements, Tedder won a narrow victory in the Democratic primary, winning a runoff against fellow state Rep. Wendell Gillard by only 11 votes. This win, however, set up Tedder for an easy win in the general election for the heavily Democratic district. Tedder received over 80% of the votes against Republican Rosa Kay. Tedder will now represent a Senate district that includes portions of Charleston and North Charleston.
Tedder’s profile on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, describes him as a “Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Attorney” in addition to his elected role. According to his website, Tedder has spent his time as a state representative advocating for HBCUs and has also “led the fight against attempts to censor Black history from being taught in the classroom and has advocated for more investment in public education.” When Tedder takes office in January, he will be nearly five years younger than the next youngest state senator and one of only a few state senators under 50. The Post and Courier reported that Tedder’s priorities as a state senator will be “criminal justice reform, public education and housing,” including the passage of hate crime legislation that he helped pass in the state House but that has been held up in the Senate.
“I do look forward to getting in and helping my colleagues push the hate crimes bill across the finish line,” Tedder told the paper.
Tedder takes his new office as his state grows in national political prominence. Two South Carolina politicians, Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley, have been prominent Republican presidential candidates this year. On the Democratic side, former Senate candidate Jaime Harrison now chairs the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic Party recently moved up South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, making it the first Democratic primary race in the election cycle and citing the state’s large Black Democratic voter base as a critical factor in that decision. Thus, as all eyes turn to South Carolina for its impact on national politics, Tedder will be one of the people working to set policies within the Palmetto State.