GOP defeats Obama-endorsed candidate in deep blue city that Biden won handily in 2020

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Endorsements from former President Obama and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn in reliably blue Columbia, South Carolina, were not enough to push the city’s Democratic mayoral candidate over the finish line. 

Republican Daniel Rickenmann, a businessman and Columbia city council member, defeated Democrat Tameika Isaac Devine 52% to 48% on Tuesday night in Columbia, which sits in a county that President Biden carried by almost 40 points in 2020.

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 8, 2021.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Obama, according to Washington Free Beacon, released an audio message in support of Devine. The former president carried the city’s county by 29 points in 2008 and 33 points in 2012.

Clyburn, one of the most prominent Democrats in both the South and the Black community, who many believe saved President Biden’s flailing 2020 campaign with his endorsement, also endorsed Devine.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, conduct a news conference at the Capitol on Nov. 5, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Columbia has been so reliably blue over the last several years that Republicans didn’t put forth a challenger to Rickenmann’s Democratic predecessor, Mayor Stephen Benjamin.

Republicans are likening Rickenmann’s victory to the GOP’s successful push in Virginia weeks ago that elected businessman Glenn Youngkin as the commonwealth’s next governor despite Virginians voting reliably blue for several cycles.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, celebrated Rickenmann’s victory as part of a “red wave.”

The Democrat losses in South Carolina and Virginia come as Biden’s poll numbers continue to slump and a USA Today/Suffolk University poll earlier this week painted a grim picture of the party’s chances in the 2022 midterms.

The survey, which was taken after the Virginia elections but before House Democrats passed the popular infrastructure bill shortly after, showed Biden with nearly rock-bottom approval ratings, Vice President Kamala Harris with numbers that are even worse, and Democrats trailing by a wide margin on the generic congressional ballot. 

President Joe Biden shields his eyes as he walks toward Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on Oct. 20, 2021.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Among the topline numbers, according to USA Today/Suffolk University, are a 37.8% approval rating for Biden with a 59% disapproval – more than 21 points underwater. Forty-six percent of those included in the survey said Biden has done a worse job than expected, and 64% said they don’t want Biden to run for reelection. 

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, may face an uphill battle to preserve their razor-thin majorities unless something significant changes before Election Day on Nov. 8, 2022. The USA Today/Suffolk University poll gives Republicans a 46%-38% advantage on a generic congressional ballot. 

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report

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