The election saw a record-low turnout level at 9.9%, less than half of the voter participation level in the 2008 primaries. A few incumbents will be clearing out their desks early, including Sen. Mike Rose (R-Dorchester) and 18-year Senate veteran David Thomas (R-Greenville). Hopefully Rose’s dead Confederate ancestors can offer him some more guidance during this difficult time.
We also know that Gov. Nikki Haley’s endorsement still carries some weight in the Upstate, despite her low approval ratings. Haley-endorsed Sen. Lee Bright soundly defeated former lawmaker John Hawkins in a hard-fought race that many believed would be closer.
However, quite a few more things remain unclear after a primary that has already seen much confusion due to multiple lawsuits and court rulings.
For example, we’re still not sure how little-known former Georgia state Rep. Gloria Tinubu beat establishment favorite Preston Brittain for the Democratic nomination in South Carolina’s new Congressional seat. In fact, we’re not even completely sure if she beat him.
In order to avoid a runoff, a candidate must win a 50%+1 majority of the votes. The Elections Commission’s results show Tinubu capturing 52% of the vote, but that’s because officials simply disqualified thousands of votes for ex-candidate Ted Vick instead of counting them in the overall total.
The state Democratic Party released a statement Wednesday morning arguing that by ignoring the votes of over 2,300 South Carolinians, the Elections Commission is disenfranchising those voters:
[O]ver 2,300 people voted for a candidate that canceled his campaign but still remained on the ballot. South Carolina code of law 7-17-610 states that “…there are more persons seeking nomination than there are offices, the majority shall be ascertained by dividing the total vote cast for all candidates by the number of positions to be filled, and by dividing the result by two.” Based on the names that appeared on the ballot, no candidate received 50% + 1 of the votes cast in the June 12 primary, thus a run-off is required.
In response, SCGOP Executive Director Matt Moore accused the Democrats of “trying to steal” the nomination from Tinubu. If Tinubu won outright, she will face either former Lt. Gov. André Bauer or Horry Co. Councilman Tom Rice in the SC-7 general election. Bauer and Rice are headed to a runoff after Bauer captured a third of the vote.
We’re also awaiting the results of a recount in Senate District 32, where incumbent Sen. Yancey McGill and challenger Cezar McKnight are separated in the Democratic primary by only 82 votes out of 12,500 cast. No Republican has filed for the race, so this will remain a closely-watched race during the recount.
In Sumter County, Republican Senate District 35 candidates Tony Barwick and Wade Kolb will enter a runoff after Barwick won 49% of the vote. The runoff winner will challenge Democratic nominee Thomas McElveen for retiring Sen. Phil Leventis’ long-held seat.
Of course, there’s also the stack of elections lawsuits expected to be filed by ex-candidates removed from the ballot by the State Supreme Court. We’re told one of those lawsuits hinges on the results of the Barwick-Kolb runoff, so we might have to wait a few weeks on that one.
Either way, it’s clear this intense election season is only just getting started. Read our previous Election 2012 coverage here, and follow Palmetto Public Record for political updates as they happen.