By Stan Welch
In keeping with one of the busiest and chaotic election years in some time, an unusual number of incumbents for local, state, and federal offices are facing challenges this year. The enormous initial field of seventeen Republican presidential candidates appears to have set the tone; and while that field has been whittled down to two frontrunners, in Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, and a tag along in Gov. John Kasich, the smell of rebellion seems to have spread.
With his runoff win Tuesday, Mike Gambrell will likely be the person to fill the unexpired Senate District Four seat since no Democratic candidates filed to run in the special election May 17. Write-in candidates, however, will still have an opportunity to seek the office in the special election. The winner of the special election on May 17 will serve the final few months of Sen. Billy O’Dell’s term, but will still have to participate in the June primaries and the November general election to be elected to serve the full term beginning in January.
Gambrell will have to run again in the June primary for a full term as Senator. Burgess has already signed up to oppose Gambrell in that primary.
In addition, in an unexpected switch, Williamston resident Mark Powell has also signed up as a Democrat to run for the Senate District Four seat in November. Powell was one of five candidates who ran in the Republican primary special election held in March, and failed to make the runoff.
In other General Assembly races in the area, Senator Kevin Bryant will face former Pendleton mayor Carole Burdette in the Republican primary. No Democrat has signed up to challenge the Republican winner in November.
In the District Six House race, Chairman of the Ways and Means committee Brian White is running unopposed. The District Seven seat, currently held by Rep. Gambrell, is in abeyance pending the outcome of the runoff previously mentioned.
In District Eight, tea party candidate and incumbent Jonathon Hill will face Albert Howard and Don Bowen, whom he unseated in 2014, in the Republican primary. The winner will then face Barbara Jo Mullis, a Democrat, in November.
Anne Thayer is unopposed in the primary for her District Nine House seat, but she has a Democratic opponent in November, Mary Geren.
Joshua Putnam, the incumbent from District Ten, is unopposed in the primary but will face Democrat Anna Brown in the general election.
Regardless of the outcome of the election for the Tenth Circuit Solicitor, there will be a new face heading that office.
Chrissy Adams’ decision to vacate the office brought a trio of Republican candidates to the fore. They are W. Wilson Burr, Rame Campbell, and David Wagner. No Democrats filed for the office.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper faces two Republican challengers, Chad McBride and Jeremy Pickens.
McBride is a former deputy at the Sheriff’s Office. The offices of Clerk of Court (Richard Shirley), Coroner (Greg Shore), Auditor (Jacky Hunter) and Treasurer (Jason Phillips) are all unopposed in either the primary or the general election.
U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan of District Three will face Hosea Cleveland in the general election,while Congressman Trey Gowdy will face Democrat Chris Fedalei and Constitution Party candidate in November.
Closer to home, several county council races promise to be lively. District One incumbent Francis Crowder declined another run for office, leaving Democrat Liz Carey and Republican Craig Wooten to face off in November.
Longtime stalwart from District Two, Gracie Floyd faces surprising opposition in the Democratic primary, as Maurice Martin and Frank Pressly will both attempt to unseat her. The winner of that tussle will face Larry Bright in November.
In District Three, incumbent Mitchell Cole will face opposition in the primary from Eddie Moore, whom he defeated in 2014 to win the seat, and Ray Graham. The primary winner will face no opposition in the general election.
In Districts Four, Five, Six and Seven, the incumbents are unopposed in either the primary or the general election. They are, respectively, Tom Allen, Tommy Dunn, Ken Waters and Cindy Wilson. Ms. Wilson is the only member who can match Ms. Floyd in terms of longevity on the Council.