Post and Courier
August 28, 2014

Primary runoffs: McMaster wins GOP nod for lieutenant governor

Posted: 06/24/2014 08:42 a.m.
Updated: 06/24/2014 10:59 p.m.


By SEANNA ADCOX

Associated Press

COLUMBIA - Voters chose former Attorney General Henry McMaster to be the Republican choice for lieutenant governor and picked both parties' nominees to be South Carolina's education superintendent.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed McMaster trouncing Mike Campbell by a 2-to-1 margin. Sally Atwater, the widow of legendary GOP strategist Lee Atwater, lost to Molly Spearman in the superintendent's race. And Democrats elected their first African-American nominee for state superintendent, according to the Democratic Party chairman.

McMaster, 67, ran on his experience, saying he has the knowledge to get things done.

McMaster was a U.S. attorney during President Ronald Reagan's first term and state GOP chairman from 1993 to 2002 before being elected to two terms as the state's attorney general.

McMaster also touted his ties to Gov. Nikki Haley, who had no primary opponent.

"I think the people of this state agree with me that our state's greatest days lie ahead. I'll stand tall with Nikki Haley and make sure our great state and its citizens take pride in our true potential," McMaster told The Associated Press. "We have every asset. We have great potential. What we need is leadership and vision."

McMaster brought Boots, his white bulldog, to his campaign celebration, calling him a secret weapon. Boots had appeared in McMaster's television ads.

McMaster had a strong lead in the four-way GOP primary two weeks ago, taking 44 percent of the vote. But he needed more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff.

Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, actually finished third in that contest. But the 45-year-old small businessman advanced to the runoff when second-place finisher Pat McKinney, who received about 1,250 more votes, bowed out ahead of the expected recount.

It was Campbell's second loss for the state's No. 2 spot in a runoff. He lost against then-Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in 2006 after placing first in the three-way primary.

McMaster will face 29-year-old Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers in November. Sellers, a four-term House member, said he plans to draw clear distinctions for voters in the upcoming months.

"My opponent represents the status quo and is a decades-long career politician," he said. "We have an opportunity to retire the 'good-ol' boy network' in Columbia."

Voters also returned to the polls Tuesday to decide both parties' nominees for state superintendent of education.

On the Republican side, Spearman defeated Atwater with 57 percent of the votes. It was the first run for elected office for the widow of Lee Atwater, who engineered wins for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, and then became national GOP chairman.

Spearman spent the last decade advocating for the state's 3,600 K-12 administrators as director of the state Association of School Administrators.

But her career began in the classroom, as a music teacher for 18 years, then two years as an assistant principal.

Her other roles include legislator, deputy superintendent and chief of staff at the state education agency.

Spearman had a slight lead over Atwater in the eight-way primary two weeks ago.

But Atwater's call-in interview the next day with a conservative Greenville radio station, along with the host's comments afterward, dealt a blow to her runoff campaign. Russ Cassell described Atwater to listeners as a candidate running on name recognition who is "clueless."

Citing the interview, which went viral, third-place finisher Sheri Few even called on Atwater to drop out and let her compete instead.

Few had been endorsed by the radio host before the primary.

In a statement, Atwater said the "tough night" followed a "tough two weeks for me and my family." But she congratulated Spearman and wished her luck in November.

Voters will choose between Spearman and Democrat Tom Thompson for the next state schools chief.

Thomspon had about 59 percent of the vote over Sheila Gallagher in their runoff contest. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said Thompson has made history as the party's first African-American nominee for superintendent.

"Tom Thompson will be a champion for our students and schools, helping every educator and student to meet their potential and excel," Harrison said. "Public education is key for moving our state forward."

Thompson, former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University, placed second in the four-way primary two weeks ago.

Gallagher, former president of the South Carolina Education Association, had attracted attention by advocating legalizing and taxing marijuana to raise money for schools.

But Thompson called it reckless and short-sighted to link buying marijuana to quality education.

The Chicago native started his career in 1970 as an inner-city high school math teacher.

Thompson came to South Carolina in 1982 from Wisconsin to be the first black principal of Winnsboro High School in Fairfield County.

In Chesterfield, Darlington and Marlboro counties, voters chose Patricia Henegan as their choice to replace state Rep. Elizabeth Munnerlyn, D-Bennettsville, who is not seeking a third term.

Voters in 11 of the state's 46 counties also had runoff choices in local races.

Returns by county:

Here are the latest, unofficial returns from South Carolina by county in the Republican runoff primary for Lieutenant Governor.

County TP PR Campbell McMaster
Abbeville 14 14 330 418
Aiken 76 76 1,654 2,177
Allendale 8 8 11 9
Anderson 78 78 2,621 3,513
Bamberg 13 13 73 90
Barnwell 15 15 711 756
Beaufort 98 98 1,105 2,536
Berkeley 61 61 3,220 6,155
Calhoun 12 12 129 280
Charleston 183 183 2,202 6,117
Cherokee 29 29 617 854
Chester 23 23 79 88
Chstrfld 25 25 153 155
Clarendon 25 25 243 455
Colleton 33 33 275 625
Darlington 32 32 689 1,278
Dillon 20 20 117 205
Dorchester 81 81 1,049 2,583
Edgefield 12 12 151 196
Fairfield 22 22 113 369
Florence 63 63 862 1,782
Georgetown 34 34 489 1,038
Greenville 151 151 6,123 8,895
Greenwood 48 48 997 1,341
Hampton 18 18 13 17
Horry 120 120 2,251 4,652
Jasper 14 14 62 67
Kershaw 34 34 1,612 2,891
Lancaster 29 29 423 539
Laurens 34 34 865 1,418
Lee 22 22 35 91
Lexington 96 96 5,346 9,247
McCormick 11 11 113 195
Marion 17 17 99 181
Marlboro 15 15 50 71
Newberry 30 30 671 901
Oconee 31 31 989 1,561
Orangeburg 54 54 418 733
Pickens 61 61 1,772 2,563
Richland 150 150 3,279 8,129
Saluda 18 18 622 963
Sprtnbrg 98 98 3,291 4,786
Sumter 58 58 629 1,357
Union 23 23 159 172
Wilmsbrg 28 28 93 151
York 89 89 1,866 2,406
Totals 2,206 2,206 48,671 85,006
 

 

Here are the latest, unofficial returns from South Carolina by county in the Republican runoff primary for Supt of Education.

County Total
Precincts
Precincts
Reporting
Atwater Spearman
Abbeville 14 14 233 519
Aiken 76 76 1,705 2,151
Allendale 8 8 12 7
Anderson 78 78 2,707 3,440
Bamberg 13 13 77 85
Barnwell 15 15 598 860
Beaufort 98 98 1,714 1,906
Berkeley 61 61 4,141 5,067
Calhoun 12 12 205 201
Charleston 183 183 3,979 4,317
Cherokee 29 29 590 869
Chester 23 23 80 89
Chstrfld 25 25 170 135
Clarendon 25 25 278 414
Colleton 33 33 478 419
Darlington 32 32 847 1,107
Dillon 20 20 143 172
Dorchester 81 81 1,466 2,157
Edgefield 12 12 156 193
Fairfield 22 22 213 271
Florence 63 63 1,307 1,319
Georgetown 34 34 703 820
Greenville 151 151 8,645 6,370
Greenwood 48 48 698 1,657
Hampton 18 18 13 15
Horry 120 120 2,978 3,838
Jasper 14 14 50 82
Kershaw 34 34 1,629 2,826
Lancaster 29 29 437 538
Laurens 34 34 920 1,353
Lee 22 22 55 70
Lexington 96 96 4,504 10,198
McCormick 11 11 162 146
Marion 17 17 151 123
Marlboro 15 15 84 37
Newberry 30 30 384 1,199
Oconee 31 31 1,169 1,372
Orangeburg 54 54 538 606
Pickens 61 61 2,022 2,303
Richland 150 150 3,639 7,864
Saluda 18 18 175 1,444
Sprtnbrg 98 98 3,997 4,077
Sumter 58 58 840 1,136
Union 23 23 215 114
Wilmsbrg 28 28 127 115
York 89 89 2,024 2,378
Totals 2,206 2,206 57,258 76,379