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South Carolina Senate’s only Black Republican is sworn in

April 5, 2022 GMT
South Carolina Sen. Mike Reichenbach, R-Florence, is sworn in on Tuesday, April, 5, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Reichenbach won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugh Leatherman. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
South Carolina Sen. Mike Reichenbach, R-Florence, is sworn in on Tuesday, April, 5, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Reichenbach won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugh Leatherman. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
South Carolina Sen. Mike Reichenbach, R-Florence, is sworn in on Tuesday, April, 5, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Reichenbach won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugh Leatherman. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
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South Carolina Sen. Mike Reichenbach, R-Florence, is sworn in on Tuesday, April, 5, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Reichenbach won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugh Leatherman. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
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South Carolina Sen. Mike Reichenbach, R-Florence, is sworn in on Tuesday, April, 5, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Reichenbach won a special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugh Leatherman. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s newest senator was sworn into office on Tuesday.

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

Reichenbach is a political newcomer and a car dealership owner in Florence. He is the Senate’s only Black Republican.

Reichenbach is filling out the last two-and-a-half years of the term of Sen. 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.

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Along with his car dealerships, Reichenbach has worked as a state constable and a game warden.

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

In 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 put him up for adoption.

“No one, not a single person would have believed this could have happened in 1971 when a scared, 14-year-old girl, encouraged by so many to have an abortion, chose life. She chose my life,” Reichenbach said.

His adopted parents are white, and Reichenbach said that’s an important part of his story too.

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

Reichenbach said he wants to help people who are struggling with rising energy prices and grocery prices.

“Acknowledging we will not all see eye to eye on each issue, on each solution, I am certain we can have respectful discourse and come together to prioritize problem solving,” Reichenbach said.

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