South Carolina Senate’s only black Republican sworn in

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — South Carolina’s new senator was sworn in Tuesday.

Surrounded by his family, Sen. Mike Reichenbach became the newest member of the chamber a week after winning a special election for his Florence County district with 90% of the vote.

Reichenbach is a political newcomer and owner of a car dealership in Florence. He is the only black Republican in the Senate.

Reichenbach is filling the last two and a half years of the term of Senator Hugh Leatherman, a Republican who died last year after serving more than 40 years.

“I take the privilege of succeeding him very seriously,” Reichenbach said.


Reichenbach ran on promises to bring more economic growth to his region. He also pledged to fight for the right to bear arms and against abortion.

Along with his car dealerships, Reichenbach worked as a police officer and game warden.

Reichenbach spent nearly $500,000 on the race, taking $384,000 in loans for his campaign, according to campaign finance reports.

During his first speech in the Senate, Reichenbach briefly became emotional as he thanked his mother and father, who are white, for adopting him when his teenage mother offered him up for adoption.

“Nobody, not a single person would have believed that this could have happened in 1971, when a frightened 14-year-old girl, encouraged by so many to have an abortion, chose life. She chose my life said Reichenbach.

Her adoptive parents are white, and Reichenbach said that was an important part of her story as well.

He thanked “my sister, who in the 1970s put me on her hip and took me to this all-white high school and dared someone to challenge her and her little brother.”

Reichenbach said he wanted to help people struggling with rising energy and food prices.

“Recognizing that we won’t all agree on every problem, on every solution, I’m sure we can have a respectful discourse and come together to prioritize problem solving,” Reichenbach said.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSColinsAP.

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