LAKE WYLIE — The Clover/Lake Wylie Republican Women’s Club members recently met face-to-face with the candidate they helped get in office during the Nov. 6 election.
Newly elected South Carolina State Sen. Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington) was the club’s special guest during the annual holiday tea held Nov. 30 at a member’s River Hills home.
“I have a deeper appreciation of the democratic system,” club vice president Peggy Upchurch said of her experience.
“I have a sense, even playing a part, one person can make a difference.”
Discrepancies in South Carolina ballot filing rules caused Shealy and about 200 other candidates statewide to be pushed off the ballot. To regain a position on the ballot, Shealy needed to become a petition candidate.
As the political drama unfolded, making national news after going to the state Supreme Court for final resolution, the local club members realized having a woman in the state Senate was important.
“Especially, as we recognized all the road blocks that were in her way,” Upchurch said.
Initially, members wrote checks. Soon club treasurer Margarett Black spearheaded an effort to have club volunteers go to Lexington to assist Shealy in her door-to-door campaign. To become a petition candidate, Shealy needed 20,000 signatures.
“We knew all along we would have to do this,” Shealy said, “so we started going for the signatures early. I have one employee. Groups like this one came to work for me as volunteers. Sometimes we had 20 or more who came and knocked on doors to get those 20,000 signatures.”
At least six Lake Wylie club members went to Lexington to volunteer, Upchurch said.
“We were there from 9:30 to 5:30 knocking on doors,” she said.
Not only were signatures needed, Shealy said, but it was important to educate voters on how to ensure their vote was heard, especially for a petition candidate running during a presidential election year.
“We explained it to people,” she said. “We made face contact with people.”
Along with its philanthropic activities, such as the annual home tour that supports a $2,500 scholarship for a Clover High School student, the club’s focus also is on informing the public.
“Educating the public on the Republican platform, staying abreast of regional politics and assisting in getting the vote out,” said Diane Carr, club president.
The efforts to elect Shealy paid off. She won the seat against incumbent Dist. 23 Sen. Jake Knotts. She is now the only woman in the South Carolina Senate.
“Friend me on Facebook,” Shealy said, “see what is going on. I post every day.”