On his first day as congressman-elect for the 5th District, Mick Mulvaney stayed in bed late with a head cold that bothered him over the final days of the campaign.
Mulvaney was unavailable for comment Wednesday while he got some long-awaited rest, a spokesman said. In a statement, the Indian Land Republican reflected on his victory over 14-term incumbent Rep. John Spratt of York.
"Folks here have made it clear that the current agenda is unacceptable, and that we need to change course," he said. "Simply put, there is no stronger message that voters can send than to vote out the 28-year incumbent Budget Chairman."
Spratt conceded the race early Wednesday after late-arriving vote totals confirmed the outcome, campaign spokesman Nu Wexler said. Mulvaney had about 55 percent of the vote to Spratt's 45 percent.
There was conflicting information Wednesday about the concession call. Wexler said Spratt left a message for Mulvaney and also spoke to a campaign staffer for the Republican candidate. But the Mulvaney staff didn't receive a call until late afternoon, campaign manager Eric Bedingfield said.
Once they got in touch around 4 p.m., the two men talked about getting their staffs together to map out a transition process, Bedingfield said. Later in the day, Mulvaney also took part in a conference call with Republican newcomers.
"Honestly, it's new to all of us," Bedingfield said. "Mr Spratt never had to go through it in 28 years. It's Mr. Mulvaney's first time. They're both getting up to speed."
The results in York County underscored the grim picture for Spratt. Mulvaney picked up 63.5 percent of the vote, and Spratt was unable to close the gap in the smaller, more rural counties that traditionally supply his winning margins.
"He really got his hat handed to him in York County," said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University.
"If he was going to win, he needed to keep his losses in the Republican strongholds in single digits. That just didn't happen."
Mulvaney will join Jeff Duncan of Laurens, Tim Scott of North Charleston and Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg as a quartet of conservative newcomers in the South Carolina delegation.
Not since the post-Watergate elections of 1974 have South Carolina voters sent as many as three new members of Congress to Washington.
Rep. Jim Clyburn is now the lone S.C. Democrat in Congress.
"Mulvaney had this perfect storm - it was an anti-Democratic wave election," Huffmon said. "He rode the tea party surfboard down that wave."
While the race turned bitter at times, Mulvaney often complimented Spratt's record of service, even as he criticized the congressman for his more recent votes in favor of President Barack Obama's agenda.
"He made (voters) feel OK about supporting Spratt in the past," Huffmon said.
The victory marked Mulvaney's third election night triumph in the past four years, after successful bids for the state House in 2006 and state Senate in 2008.
This one didn't come cheap. The National Republican Campaign Committee helped Mulvaney with $1 million infusion of advertising, while outside groups funded mainly by large businesses spent another $1.1 million on anti-Spratt ads.
Hoping to preserve one of the few remaining white Southern Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provided $1.1 million to Spratt.
Combined with the $3.15 million the two candidates raised, the contest reached the $6.35 million mark - one of the costliest races in South Carolina history.