Adams bound for runoff in Berkeley

Ray Sparks of Goose Creek casts his ballet for Berkeley County sheriff Tuesday at Goose Creek High School.

MONCKS CORNER — It was clear who one of the runoff candidates would be as soon as results from the Republican Berkeley County sheriff’s primary started rolling into election headquarters Tuesday.

Brian Adams, the North Charleston Police lieutenant who challenged Wayne DeWitt in the 2014 election, led Tuesday’s primary from the beginning.

“I feel really good,” Adams, 45, said by phone from a celebratory party at Crowfield County Club shortly after results were in. “To me, voters are saying, ‘Let’s bring in some fresh blood and let’s quit doing the same old, same old.’ ”

The question was who he’d be facing in the May 5 runoff as Duane Lewis and Berkeley County Chief Deputy Rick Ollic seesawed back and forth all night.

In unofficial results, with all precincts reporting, Adams had 23.7 percent of the vote, Lewis had 13 percent and Ollic had 12.3 percent. Fourteen candidates were on the GOP primary ballot.

There will be a mandatory recount because Lewis, 51, and Ollic, 50, tallied less than a 1 percent difference in votes, said Election Director Adam Hammons. The recount could be Thursday after the certification, he said.

Adams said it didn’t matter who he faced in the runoff. “I think we just have to keep our eye on the ball and not worry about it,” he said.

Lewis, the Santee Cooper Law Enforcement deputy chief, said he didn’t think the recount would change the results.

“We’re moving forward,” he said. “I’m very happy with the outcome. We promised people that we were going to give them a fresh start and reach back into the community to build a positive relationship.”

Ollic also thanked his supporters.

“I’m just thankful for everyone who came out,” Ollic said. “This is my life. It’s what I’ve been doing for 28 years.”

Just over 13 percent of 106,000 registered voters countywide turned out for the primary, which had 14 candidates on the ballot. Voting was light in Eadytown and Huger but hit nearly 20 percent in Alvin, Macedonia and Shulerville, said Hammons.

No issues were reported at the polls, other than some questions about the rules governing candidates at the polling places.

“In some cases, poll managers were confused, and in others, the candidates just didn’t know, but we got it all straightened out,” Hammons said.

The sheriff’s job came open after Wayne DeWitt, who held the post for 20 years, stepped down in February in the wake of his Dec. 28 arrest for drunken driving.

Adams faced a challenge Monday after candidate Frank Fuda filed a protest with the county Republican party over Adams’ paperwork, on which he had failed to list his high school graduation date, as required by law.

The party’s executive committee voted 23-10 to deny Fuda’s protest.

Adams said the challenge did not rattle him or his supporters.

“I kept going and I kept telling my whole team not to let this bog us down,” Adams said. They continued to go door to door over the weekend.

The issue could come up again as the election could be protested or a lawsuit could be filed by any voter, Hammons said. A protest would need be filed with the commission and decided by the party, he said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.