By Stan Welch
Surprises and runoffs were the themes of the evening as the primary election returns came in at the Anderson Civic Center Tuesday night. Perhaps foremost among those surprises was the lopsided victory achieved by Chad McBride in the sheriff’s race.
Despite a three man field, McBride easily avoided a runoff, notching better than fifty eight per cent of the vote, and handily defeating incumbent John Skipper, who tallied a little over twenty five per cent.
Jeremy Pickens, Anderson County’s first black candidate for sheriff, polled just over sixteen per cent, but had a remarkable impact on the elections nevertheless. Because South Carolina has open primaries, allowing voters to vote in whichever primary, Republican or Democrat, that they choose, many traditional Democrats crossed over to support Pickens; leaving less than five hundred voters to cast ballots in the District Three County Council race, which Democrat incumbent Gracie Floyd won handily.
She defeated Maurice Martin and Frank Pressly. Floyd, whose district contains approximately twenty seven thousand people, was re-elected with just 435 votes of the 489 total cast. By contrast, Republicans cast 23,999 votes in the various races. Floyd faces Republican Larry Bright in the general election.
Another surprising outcome was the closeness of the race between incumbent Kevin Bryant and challenger Carole Burdette in the District Three race for state Senator. Bryant held a steady four to six point lead through most of the evening, but Burdette’s late surge in the Pendleton area, where she served several terms as mayor, made it a very close race. Bryant finished with 7872 votes, while Burdette tallied 7500.
The District Four Senate race was somewhat less exciting. Following the untimely death of Senator Billy O’Dell earlier this year, Gambrell sought to fill O’Dell’s seat on an interim basis, against a three man field. He won the resulting runoff against Williamston Councilmember and businessman Rockey Burgess. Burgess again challenged Gambrell for the seat in the primary Tuesday, however Gambrell can finally claim the seat for a full term beginning in January. Tuesday night’s results were Gambrell, 4611 to 2914 for Burgess.
In the District Six House race, Chairman of the Ways and Means committee Brian White was running unopposed. The District Seven seat, held by former Rep. Gambrell until recently, will require a runoff between Blake Parker and Jay West, neither of whom attained the fifty per cent threshold to avoid such a runoff.
In District Eight, tea party candidate and incumbent Jonathon Hill avoided a runoff, tallying over fifty one per cent of the vote against Don Bowen and Albert Howard. Hill garnered 256 votes to Bowen’s 2202 and Howard’s 410. Hill faces Barbara Jo Mullis, a Democrat, in November.
Anne Thayer was 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, was unopposed in the primary but will face Democrat Anna Brown in the general election.
In the Tenth Circuit Solicitor’s race, David Wagner and Rame Campbell, both veterans of Chrissy Adams’ administration, will be in a run off. Wagner got 10,380 votes and Campbell got 8285. But Wilson Burr siphoned off enough votes to prevent Wagner from avoiding the runoff.
No Democrats filed for the 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 a Constitution Party candidate in November.
District One incumbent County Councilman Francis’ Crowder declined another run for office, leaving Democratic newcomer Liz Carey and Republican Craig Wooten to face off in November.
In County Council District Three, incumbent Mitchell Cole was handily defeated, but Ray Graham and former councilman Eddie Moore face a runoff. Personal and political tensions between the two, exemplified by a brief but intense confrontation at the civic center Tuesday night, promises an exciting runoff.
In Districts Four, Five, Six and Seven, the incumbents are unopposed in either the primary of the general election. They are, respectively, Tom Allen, Tommy Dunn, Ken Waters and Cindy Wilson.