It’s official: Lewis to face Adams in Berkeley County sheriff’s primary runoff

Brian Adams (left) and Duane Lewis will face off May 5 in the Berkeley County Republican primary runoff for sheriff.

The next Berkeley County sheriff will not come from within the current department.

After a recount Thursday, the Election Commission certified Tuesday’s Republican primary results, which have Santee Cooper Law Enforcement Deputy Chief Duane Lewis squaring off against Brian Adams in the May 5 runoff.

Adams, the North Charleston police lieutenant who challenged Wayne DeWitt in the 2014 election, came out on top Tuesday, with 3,519 votes, or 23.7 percent of the ballots. Fourteen candidates were vying for the nomination.

On Tuesday, Lewis and Berkeley County Chief Deputy Rick Ollic traded places for the second and third place spots several times. They were separated by just 110 votes when all the ballots were tallied, necessitating Thursday’s recount.

Thursday’s recount did not change the results. Lewis still had 1,934 votes, or 13 percent, while Ollic brought in 1,824 or 12.3 percent.

Just over 13 percent of 106,000 registered voters countywide turned out for the primary.

Adams and Lewis have touted the need for a fresh start for the department after former Sheriff 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, 45, worked for the Goose Creek Police Department for four years before joining North Charleston in 1996.

Lewis, 51, started his law enforcement career with Berkeley County, where he worked from 1984 to 1986. He also worked for Charleston, INS Investigations Bureau and Goose Creek before joining Santee Cooper in 1994.

Adams faced a challenge Monday after candidate Frank Fuda filed a protest with the county Republican party because Adams failed to list his high school graduation date on candidate paperwork, as required by law Adams has since provided copies of his high school diploma to the party and posted it on Facebook. The party’s executive committee voted 23-10 to deny Fuda’s protest.

The issue could come up again as voters have until Wednesday to protest the election. A protest would be heard by the Republican Party. In addition, a lawsuit could be filed by any voter.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713.