Berkeley County's residents can't seem to agree any more than its political leaders do.
Split votes will require runoffs on June 24 in two races on a county council that is often sharply divided in its voting, even dividing Republican candidates and resulting in some name-calling.
Both the supervisor's job and the District 6 council seat are still up for grabs after none of the candidates received the required 50 percent plus one vote needed to win in Tuesday's Republican primary.
In the supervisor's race, incumbent Dan Davis faces Moncks Corner Mayor Bill Peagler, and in District 6, incumbent Jack Schurlknight will square off against former state Rep. James Law.
Davis received 44 percent of the vote in the primary to Peagler's 39 percent. Jerry Beckley got 16 percent.
Schurlknight received 45 percent of Tuesday's ballots, while Law got 39 percent and Baron Thomas, 16 percent.
Beckley has thrown his support behind Peagler and Thomas endorsed Law, the candidates said.
In the aftermath of the primary, discussions about candidates on the Berkeley County Republican Party's Facebook page turned personal, with name-calling and other accusations, until party chairman Terry Hardesty issued a warning: "If you can not remain civil in your debate I will remove you from the group."
On council, Davis and Schurlknight often vote on issues with Democrats Steve Davis and Caldwell Pinckney, resulting in the two Republicans being labeled as "Republican in Name Only," or RINOs.
A loosely organized local political group called RINO Hunt targeted the candidates by placing signs next to their campaign signs.
"The two incumbents in the runoff are the two who had RINO signs, so I think (the RINO signs) caught people's attention," said Nancy Corbin, who put the signs out. "I think they are an effective tool. They make people realize there's a question that needs to be looked at."
Corbin said she doesn't know Peagler or Law, but "sometimes you've got to be willing to give others a try."
Schurlknight said he was labeled a RINO for voting with Berkeley residents in mind.
"If being a RINO means standing up for what you believe in and not just a party, then I guess I'm one," he said. "My votes will be cast on issues, not on what a small faction wants. I will continue to listen to my constituents in the district and the county, and to put their needs on the table and fight for them."
He said he's not surprised there's a runoff.
"James is well-known in Berkeley County," he said. "James is a friend of mine. We just have different philosophies. I think I've done a good job of helping manage the county. We have come through some very, very lean years and it's looking better for us right now. We have good times ahead of us."
Law said he decided to run partly because council is so divided.
"I started taking a closer look at some of the votes and didn't agree with them," he said. "I think they need to do away with the infighting and get stuff done. We don't need to have that split on council that's been there. They spend more time fighting with other council members than they do solving problems."
In the supervisor's race, Davis, who lives in Hanahan, controlled the lower part of the county, while Peagler's support came mostly from his Moncks Corner hometown and the upper part of the county.
"We will be concentrating our efforts in the lower part of the county," said Peagler, who has been mayor since 2005. A lawyer, he said he will retire from the practice if he is elected.
He said he has the support of several elected officials in the lower part of the county, and is "hopeful that people will certainly take a look at that."
Peagler describes himself as a conservative said encourages voters to look at his record leading Moncks Corner.
"I can't judge (Davis') conservatism," he said. "I just think we have a different perspective on what government should and shouldn't be."
Davis, who has been supervisor for eight years, said he has never had an election without a runoff. In 2006, he faced then-Supervisor Jim Rozier in a runoff, and in 2010, retired Congressman Henry Brown.
"We were kind of prepared for a runoff," he said. His strategy going forward is to keep talking.
"It's been a pretty positive campaign. I am going to keep talking about what we've been able to accomplish over the last few years and hopefully people will vote based on my record," he said. "I have to hope that people will look at where we were a few years ago and where we are now. I certainly think that the county has moved forward."
Berkeley officials said the biggest obstacle in the runoff will be getting voters to the polls. Only 17 percent of Berkeley's voters cast ballots Tuesday, and even fewer are expected for the runoff, election manager Adam Hammons said.
"The scary thing about a runoff is trying to get people to come back out and vote again," Schurlknight said.
Hardesty said he was disappointed in Tuesday's turnout.
"It really boggles my mind why people won't come out and vote," he said. "It's so easy. They don't even have to wait in line. I would encourage people to get involved, pay attention, look at records and go vote. If you're not voting, you're part of the problem."
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
Notice about comments: