Republicans lining up behind House District 97 candidate

Every time Dorchester County's sole Democratic legislator - Rep. Patsy Knight - has been in a contested race, she's only won by a few hundred votes in a seat which has changed hands between parties a total of four times since 2000. The district, which connects rural Democratic upper Dorchester County with the fast-growing Republican areas around Summerville, has long been a swing district - a balance which may have been tipped by redistricting, which cut a number of the more Democratic precincts from the district while adding three precincts from Colleton County (two of which trend Republican).

Reportedly Republican support is quickly gathering around Jordan Bryngelson, a Summerville insurance rep who is also the county's representative to the state's GOP Executive Committee. Like Knight, Bryngelson has long ties in the rural areas of the district and is expected to wage a strong battle for those votes.

We've talked with a number of people who have told us that Knight may take a pass on another bid for the seat.

This race will likely be a top target for the GOP in the fall general elections. If Democrats can keep the GOP candidate bottled up in the Summerville and Colleton County precincts, they could hang on to the seat. If the Republicans can win some crossover voting among the district's rural Dorchester voters, the seat is theirs. Given the changes made by redistricting and continued GOP growth in the district's Summerville precincts, a GOP win may well end over a decade of back-and-forth outcomes in this district.

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