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Beaufort County Council District 4 member Alice Howard. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Primary Roundup: Women make County Council gains as vote totals delayed on primary night

By Mike McCombs

This primary election has been a difficult one for the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

An incorrect ballot was initially distributed in County Council District 6, leaving off Republicans Mike Covert and Tab Tabernik after the boundary lines were moved during redistricting.

Then Tuesday night, because of the resolution of that error, county results could not be uploaded to the S.C. Election Commission’s Election Night Results site until all precincts had reported in Beaufort County.

“The resolution of the redistricting error was to deploy a corrected election database to the six affected precincts,” the office said in a news release Tuesday night. “Once all precincts have reported, the results from the six affected precincts can be merged with the unaffected precincts for state reporting.”

The results were released just twice during the evening via printed reports and emails with the unofficial final tally coming right at midnight.

Women on the rise

Two-term incumbent Alice Howard held off first-time challenger Josh Scallate by just over 140 votes in the Republican primary for Beaufort County County Council District 4.

Howard had been the only woman on the 11-person Council. Now she has company.

In District 6, Tab Tabernik held off former Councilman Mike Covert by a healthy margin. In District 8, Paula Brown did much the same thing to John Zmarzly. Both were Republican primaries.

In District 9, Mark Lawson held off challenger Shellie West Hodges, firming up the number of women on Council at three but there’s still a chance of a fourth.

In County Council District 2, Republican challenger and attorney David Bartholomew surprised and edged out incumbent Paul Sommerville, a 16-year veteran on Council. Next up, Bartholomew will face Democrat Marilyn Harris in the November General Election.

Rodman routed

Just more than two years after stepping down as Beaufort County Council Chair, lightning-rod councilman Stu Rodman finds himself on the way out altogether. Rodman was routed by challenger Tommy Reitz in their County Council District 11 race, 1,785 votes, to just 900 votes for Rodman.

Race set for House District 121

The General Election race is set for S.C. House District seat.

On the Democratic side, Michael Rivers Sr., continues is quest for his fourth term in the S.C. House, handling challenger Marvin Lamar Bowens relatively easily.

As for the Republicans, Eric Erickson did much the same as Rivers, dispatching Timothy Swain relatively easily.

Rivers and Erickson will face off in November’s General election.

In the race for Governor

There were no real surprises in the Gubernatorial campaigns Tuesday night.

On the Republican side, incumbent Henry McMaster defeated primary challenger Harrison Musselwhite of Greenville handily.

As for the Democrats, while there were five candidates, it was a race between former U.S. Representative Joe Cunningham and State Senator Mia McLeod, with Cunningham coming out on top with 55.6 percent of the vote.

Cunningham’s staff began campaigning immediately, sending out campaign emails and asking for donations.

Meanwhile, the S,C, GOP sent out an email with a quote from party chairman Drew McKissick alluding that Cunningham would not be much of a challenge for McMaster.

Holding the 1st

If the Republicans hold on to South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, it will be incumbent Nancy Macy in the seat. Mace held of a primary challenge from 2018 GOP nominee Katie Arrington.

In Beaufort County, Mace won with 52.75% of the vote, similar to her 53.29% mark district-wide.

Secretary of Agriculture

Longtime incumbent Hugh Weathers held off two challengers with 59.97% of the vote and will go on to face David Edmund (Green) and Chris Nelums (United Citizens) in November’s general election.

He’s back

Incumbent Alan Wilson held off a primary challenge from “S.C.-first candidate” Lauren Martel with 66.37 percent of the vote. With no Democratic challenger in the general election, Wilson will go on to his fourth term in office.

Shooting for 6

Incumbent Mark Hammond will get a chance to “keep South Carolina business friendly” in the November General Election after dismissing a primary challenge from Keith Blandford in the Secretary of State race.

First elected in 2002, Hammond is running for his sixth term as Secretary of State. He will face Democrat Rosemounda Peggy Butler in November.

Three for two spots

The Democratic primary to determine an opponent for Tim Scott in the race for U.S. Senate will result in a runoff. In an amazingly close race, the vote was almost evenly split between the three candidates.

Catherine Fleming Bruce (34.37%) and Krsytle Matthews (33.22%) will move on to a runoff two weeks from Tuesday’s primary (June 28), while Angela Geter (32.42%) appears to have gotten the short end of the stick.

Teacher, teacher

In the Democratic race for Superintendent of Education, though Beaufort County’s votes have not yet been added to the state totals on SCVotes.org, it appears Lisa Ellis’ almost-2,000-vote win in Beaufort County may have helped her avoid a runoff.

Unofficially, it looks like Ellis brought home 50.12% of the vote, while Gary Burgess had 31.21% in the three-way race.

On the Republican side, Kathy Maness and Ellen Weaver weren’t so lucky, and they’ll be moving on to a likely June 28 runoff. Maness looks to have around 30% of the vote, while fundraising juggernaut Weaver, who still lacks her required Master’s degree, is near 24%.

Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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