Sellers says politics still in his future despite loss

Bakari Sellers’ optimism has not been tempered by his recent defeat in the statewide race for lieutenant governor, and he says he is looking forward to greater things ahead.

The 30-year-old son of Voorhees College President Dr. Cleveland Sellers was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. He lost his bid for the seat to Republican candidate and former state attorney general Henry McMaster on Tuesday.

Sellers’ outlook for future Democratic victories, however, has not been dimmed, he said.

“I’m still very proud of how much progress we’ve made in the state. I’m not going away. My job now is to make Democrats relevant again in South Carolina and to keep pushing forward,” Sellers said.

“We ran a very, very good race, but the wins were against us not just in South Carolina, but nationally. So I’m proud. Who would have ever thought that a kid who used to play at the Denmark Recreation Center would be able to have his name on TV for commercials and be running for lieutenant governor?” he said.

“We’ll get across the finish line and victory will happen soon.”

The House District 90 representative served his district, including Bamberg and Denmark, for eight years before announcing a run for lieutenant governor. He did not run for re-election to the House 90 seat.

He had compared the lieutenant governor’s race to his first political battle in 2006, when the-then 21-year-old political novice unseated House District 90 Rep. Thomas Rhoad, a veteran lawmaker who served in the House for 24 years.

Sellers said he’s proud of the work that’s been done in his district.

“We widened Highway 78. People were talking about that since before I was born, but that’s being done now. We built a new school in Bamberg School District 1 and are in the process of building a school in Bamberg School District 2,” said Sellers, who also cited the recruitment of industry into Denmark.

“We brought in Masonite. We brought in jobs. We built a library. I mean, look, we’ve done a lot and will continue to fight,” Sellers said.

Florida-based residential door manufacturer Masonite International Corp. announced in July 2011 it would bring up to 200 jobs and invest $14 million on new technology over the next five years in Denmark. Its doors officially opened for business on June 4, 2013.

Officials celebrated in May the official ribbon-cutting for the new Denmark Branch Library, one of the newest branches in the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library System.

Sellers said he plans to stay in Denmark and, in the meantime, get some rest.

“For the last 16 months, I’ve worked extremely hard to become lieutenant governor. For the last eight years, I’ve been in the House of Representatives. So I’m going to focus on family, trying to become a better person every day and, you know, my faith. Those are the things that we’ll work on,” he said.

He insists, however, that his political pursuits will not be permanently shelved.

“We’re not going away. We’ll be on the scene of South Carolina politics in the very, very near future,” Sellers said.

A CNN story earlier this year named him as a person Democrats need to talk to in South Carolina if they’re planning to run for president.

He said his goals are currently planted in building his community.

“I want to build rural hospitals and rural schools. I want to improve our roads. I want to let kids dream, so I’m not going anywhere. Before I can take on any other problems, we’re going to be focused on fixing South Carolina,” Sellers said.

“It’s not a great day in South Carolina and unless we take ownership of the problems we have and fix them, then they won’t get done,” he said.

Sellers said he is comfortable with the work he has done, while realizing that there is so much more to do.

“I’m in a good space. I’m at peace,” he said.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD.