SC Senate welcomes two new, diverse members at start of the 2024 legislative session

A rare moment ushers in the 2024 Legislative session, as voters in the Lowcountry and Midlands select two new state Senators to join the General Assembly in the latter half of a two-year session.

Newly elected state Senators, Deon Tedder, D-Charleston, and Tamekia Devine, D-Richland, have joined the state’s upper chamber in the final year of the 2023-2024 Legislative session. Following special elections, Tedder replaces former state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who took a job with the Biden Administration, while Devine picks up the helm for the late state Sen. John Scott, who unexpectedly died last August.

The development adds the Senate’s youngest member — Tedder — and a sixth woman — Devine, both lawyers.

Tedder represents Senate District 42, which encompasses Charleston and Dorchester counties, while Devine serves District 19, which covers Richland County.

Tedder, a first-generation college and law graduate, and former member of the House, said he’s committed to working toward increasing wages for low-income families and creating more affordable housing so that single mothers, like his own, don’t have to work multiple jobs to put their children through school.

“I lost my father unexpectedly a month after I graduated from high school at 18 years old, and I was devastated,” Tedder said in a speech after being sworn in in the Senate. “I felt guilty going off to college, all the way to South Carolina State University … because I was leaving my mom during such a challenging time.

“I felt even more guilty once she started to work a second job, in addition to a full-time job, to support me. I noticed how tiring and stressful it was to work two jobs every day.”

But thanks to his mother’s sacrifice to support his education, Tedder said he was able to work for the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy at just 19 years-old, before eventually attending and graduating law school from the University of South Carolina. He works as a civil litigation attorney for Rogers, Patrick, Westbrook and Brickman.

Devine, a former longtime Columbia City Council member, lost a race for mayor of the capital city in 2021 to Daniel Rickenmann. She is the sixth female senator, joining state Sens. Penry Gustafson, R-Kershaw; Margie Bright Matthews, D-Colleton; Mia McLeod, I-Richland; Sandy Senn, R-Charleston; and Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington.

Newly elected state Sen. Tamekia Devine, D-Richland, looks among her colleagues prior to being sworn in as a replacement to the late state Sen. John Scott. Javon L. Harris/jaharris@thestate.com

Newly elected state Sen. Tamekia Devine, D-Richland, looks among her colleagues prior to being sworn in as a replacement to the late state Sen. John Scott. Javon L. Harris/[email protected]

For a number of years, Devine worked as an assistant attorney general in South Carolina, advocating for women as part of the state’s violence against women’s program.

Devine says she plans to continue to her tenure of public service by working to build a “better South Carolina.”

“I know that we may not always agree on issues, but I know all the kinds of deep passion and love we have for this great state and for its citizens,” Devine said. “And in that spirit, we will always strive to build bridges to make progress for the betterment of our state and our citizens.”

For Devine and Tedder to hang onto their seats for a full term, they’ll have to run again this year when the entire state Senate is up for election. Legislative primary elections are scheduled for June, with the general election in November.

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