By Mike McCombs
With the June 14 South Carolina primary approaching quickly, let’s take a look at the races where the primary votes have an impact – races where candidates are actually facing opposition – using information collected by the League of Women Voters Beaufort, the S.C. League of Women Voters, and the national League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org, as well as the websites of the candidates.
We’ll focus first on the local races and move outward to the statewide races.
Beaufort County Council, District 2 – Republican
Challenger David Bartholomew is taking on incumbent Paul Sommerville to see who will face Democrat Marilyn Harris in November.
An attorney with Schiller & Hamilton Law Firm, Bartholomew supports engaged responsible growth and environmental protection and transparency in county government. He touts flexible zoning codes and already established state and federal programs to assist in building affordable housing, and he hopes to push developers to promote green spaces in their developments. He wants to manage growth to stay ahead of infrastructure.
Sommerville, a 16-year member of County Council, says he is focused on regional land and historic preservation, preserving the quality of water in the region, and economic development. He wants to develop an affordable housing trust and require that a portion of developments be reserved for affordable housing. He continues to support public land purchases and conservation easements to preserve rural and critical areas and prevent overdevelopment.
Beaufort County Council, District 4 – Republican
Incumbent Alice Howard is facing challengers Ashley McElveen and Josh Scallate.
A two-term incumbent, Howard hopes to establish a Beaufort/Jasper Housing Trust Fund with county and other local governments to assist in the efforts to increase affordable housing. She is focused on finding traffic solutions for Ribaut Road, limiting growth to areas of the county where infrastructure already supports it, diversifying economic development, protecting the environment and water quality through support of the Rural and Critical Lands program.
A first responder in the community, Scallate touts responsible growth. He is in favor of building upon the Rural and Critical Lands program and making sure growth doesn’t outpace resources. He wants to focus on the high percentage of residents who are cost-burdened by housing. And with such a large portion of the budget devoted to public safety, Scallate believes those agencies should be held more accountable for issues such as crime rates.
McElveen is an owner of McElveen Bail Bonding. She did not respond to the LWVB request for information.
State House of Representatives, District 121 – Democratic
Marvin Lamar Bowens is challenging incumbent Michael Rivers Sr.
Rivers is seeking his fourth term in the S.C. House. He is a member of the House Legislative Oversight Committee, as well as the Education and Public Works Commitee.
Bowens did not respond to the LWV questionaire.
State House of Representatives, District 121 – Republican
Eric Erickson and Timothy Swain are running to see who will be on the ballot in November.
Erickson is the principal attorney at Beaufort’s Erickson Law Firm. He is a former special prosecutor for the S.C. Attorney General’s office and a public defender.
Swain, employed in construction, supports school choice, mandatory voter ID, cleaning up voter rolls, and rejects vaccine mandates.
U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District – Republican
Congresswoman Nancy Mace is facing a challenge from Katie Arrington, who defeated former S.C. Governor Mark Sanford in the 2018 Republican primary. Lynz Piper-Loomis is also on the ballot, but she has thrown her support behind Arrington.
The winner will face Dr. Annie Andrews (Democratic), Lucas Devan Faulk (Labor) and Joseph Oddo (Alliance) in the November general election.
Endorsed by Donald Trump, Arrington opposes abortion, supports a wall on the border with Mexico and vows to help solve American supply chain issues to bring down inflation. She supports elimination of the Department of Education.
Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel, supports parents’ control over education, vowing to stop “lawless mandates,” Critical Race Theory, biological males competing in women’s sports and radical ideologies in the classroom. She opposes abortion, vows to secure the Southern border, will defend the second amendment and supports Ukraine.
U.S. Senate – Democratic
Catherne Fleming Bruce, Angela Geter and Krystle Matthews face off to see who will challenge incumbent Republican Tim Scott in the November general election.
Bruce aims to work with the opposition to pass legislation, ensure the government is safe from domestic threats and ensure the vitality of a democratic government.
Geter, a U.S. Air Force veteran, hopes to find common ground on all issues that affect S.C., and reform the filibuster rule.
Matthews, a former state representative, wants to potect voting rights, rein in student debt, promote affordable housing and promote criminal justice reform.
Commissioner of Agriculture – Republican
Longtime incumbent Hugh Weathers will face challengers Bob Rozier and Bill Bledsoe to see who will face David Edmund (Green) and Chris Nelums (United Citizens) in the general election.
A veterinarian, Bledsoe is a Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner in Spartanburg County. He says S.C. is in a war of biological weapons, supply chain warfare, counterfeiting warfare, election hacking, and human trafficking.
Rozier has worked in seed development and wants to give a voice to S.C. farmers again. He wonders if poor decisions with our tax dollars represent south Carolina interests,
Weathers, commissioner for 17 years, vows to continue to stress the importance of local food sources and less dependence on imports, creating opportunity for South Carolina’s farmers and providing for improved food safety.
State Superintendent of Education – Democratic
Gary Burgess, Lisa Ellis and Jerry Govan are vying for the nomination to face a republican opponent and Patricia Mickel (Green) in the general election to see who will replace current Superintendent Molly Spearman, who chose not to run for re-election.
A career educator with a doctorate, Burgess hopes to improve academic excellence with more rigorous expectations. He believes schools should be locally controlled by parents and educators. And he want to retain good teachers by improving pay and create more professional teaching environments – enterprise and engagement must be encouraged.
A career educator, Ellis’s goals are to recruit and retain high quality teachers, reduce inefficiencies and inequities in the public school system, and promote changes in school funding that ensure more funding gets into the classroom, where it can make the biggest impact on students.
A 30-year S.C. House member with a Masters in teaching, Govan hopes to rebuild parental trust in the public education system; advocate for teachers and support staff to include, salaries, recruitment and retention, school safety and academic rigor; and take politics out of education.
State Superintendent of Education – Republican
A large field of eight candidates – Travis Bedson, Bryan Chapman, Kizzi Gibson, Lynda Leventis-Wells, Kathy Maness, Ellen Weaver – is competing to see who will take on the Democratic nominee and Patricia Mickel (Green) in the general election.
Maness, a former teacher and Spearman choice to replace her, wants to fully fund classrooms, keep education decisions with educators and parents and away from politicians, and reform education standards.
A businessman, Bedson wants to improve parent-teacher collaboration, cut administrative waste and pay teachers, and focus on preparing students for the workforce as an alternative to a four-year degree.
A pastor and school board member, Chapman hopes to enhance the learning track of non-college tracking students, require the teaching of life skills and incorporate sex trafficking safety curriculum.
Coats, an educator with a doctorate in education, wants to implement the “1776 curriculum” and character virtues, implement a S.C. Student Mentorship program and implement a “Soft Target No More” school-safety initiative.
A school board member and law enforcement officer, Leventis-Wells wants to focus on a teacher recruiting, reclaiming and retention strategy, be an advocate for parents’ rights and school choice, and help imprve school safety.
The top Republican fundraiser, Weaver does not yet have the Masters degree required by law to hold the elected position. She insists she will by the general election. A former assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint, Weaver is the chairman of the S.C Education Oversight Committee and a board member for the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She did not respond to the LWV questionaire.
Attorney General – Republican
Incumbent Alan Wilson is facing a primary challenge from Lauren Martel.
Wilson is seeking his fourth term in office. He supported the passage of several key public safety bills, such as Emma’s Law. He was among the attorneys general to challenge the federal health care mandate and has defended the state’s voter identification, immigration and right to work laws.
Martel, a lawyer in the state for three decades, says she is a S.C.-first candidate. She vows to uphold the S.C. Constitution and laws, promote medical freedom, investigate monopolies, investigate voter fraud, protect our heritage, seek criminal justice reform and fight mandates that violate the constitution.
Secretary of State – Republican
Incumbent Mark Hammond is facing a primary challenge from Keith Blandford. The winner will face Democrat Rosemounda Peggy Butler in November’s general election.
First elected in 2002, Hammond is running for his sixth term as Secretary of State. Hammond touts his office’s “24-7” filing services and the state’s business-friendly approach during the pandemic. He vows to continue to stress improvements in technology for S.C. businesses. He is “dedicated to working to keep South Carolina business friendly.”
According to his website, Blandford believes there was extensive fraud in the 2020 elections, and “all other issues have no bearing until the election system is completely revamped from top to bottom.” He wants to remove control of elections from bureaucrats, return power of elections to the Secretary of State office, implement “sophisticated” election monitoring, publish all election system data to a public website and clean up voter rolls.
Governor – Democratic
Carlton Boyd, former Congressman Joe Cunningham, S.C. Senator Mia McLeod, Calvin “CJ Mack” McMillan and William H. Williams are vying for the Democratic nomination and the opportunity to face a Republican candidate, as well as candidates from the Independence, Libertarian and Labor parties in the November general election.
Boyd, a public health advocate, wants to expand Medicaid, improve the state’s educational system and imporve public safety across the state.
Cunningham earned a reputation as a bipartisan representative during his term in the U.S. House. He wants to improve S.C. education, improve workforce development and jobs, and improve the state’s infrastructure.
A state senator, McLeod’s goals are to improve the state’s health care by expanding Medicaid, improve benefits and wages for working people and systematically reform the state’s judicial system, public education, environment and infrastructure.
McMillan says he wants to “bring Peace to all S.C. residents,” overcome racism and crime, upgrade education. He wants citizens to “achieve success by having a purpose, other than working a 9-5 job.”
A retured postmaster, Williams hopes to improve public safety, immigration reform and address the high crime rate.
Governor – Republican
Governor Henry McMaster is facing a primary challenge from Harrison Musselwhite and Mindy Steele for the Republican nomination. The winner will face a Demcratic challenger, as well as candidates from the Independence, Libertarian and Labor parties.
McMaster is seeking his second term as governor. He is pro-business and touts success in “keeping the state open” during the COVID pandemic, as well as successfully fighting overreach by the federal government during the Biden administration. A folksy speaker, McMaster spent two terms as the state’s Attorney General.
Musselwhite, nicknamed “Trucker Bob,” is a former furniture store owner. He is calling for a forensic audit of all elections in South Carolina. He also wants to cut taxes, allow Constitutional carry and ending corruption in the state government.
Steele did not respond to the LWV questionaire.
Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.