Former Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond came out on top of Tuesday’s Senate District 41 Republican primary, but he did not get enough votes to avoid an Oct. 2 runoff.
Thurmond received 43 percent of the vote, according to complete, unofficial results from Charleston and Dorchester precincts, well short of the 50 percent plus one needed for an outright win.
He will face incumbent Sen. Walter Hundley, who received 37 percent of the vote, in a runoff in two weeks.
Charleston businessman Wally Burbage placed third with 20 percent, and said he was proud of the hard work his family and friends put into the race.
Thurmond said earlier Tuesday that he was tired but excited, particularly with a relatively robust turnout in precincts near this James Island home.
The newly drawn district runs from James Island to southern Dorchester County, where Thurmond won almost two-thirds of the total vote.
Later, he said he was “very, very pleased” with the result and gearing up for the runoff. “I’ve been in a runoff before,” he said, referring to the 2010 GOP Congressional primary he lost to Rep. Tim Scott. “I’m ready to do it again.”
Thurmond, son of the late, longtime U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, has talked little about his father while campaigning, but he said Tuesday he has heard wonderful stories from many voters about his dad, and he has tried to emulate his work ethic on the campaign trail.
“There are plenty of people from political families who have blown it, who have been an embarrassment,” he said. “I’ve tried to make sure I would make him proud, make my family proud.”
The winner of the Oct. 2 primary could face Democrat Paul Tinkler on Nov. 6, but the S.C. Supreme Court also could rule that this special primary is moot and the Republicans should not be allowed to field a candidate.
Of the approximately 250 state and local candidates thrown off the ballot because of an S.C. Supreme Court ruling, this race marked the only case where the courts allowed a party to reopen filing and try again. But appeals in the case are pending.
Should Democrats capture the Senate seat formerly held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, they also could capture control of the Charleston County legislative delegation, which appoints people to local boards, among other tasks.
Hundley narrowly defeated Tinkler in July to fill the final few months of McConnell’s term.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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