9 of 12 rivals throw support to Berkeley County sheriff candidate Lewis

Three-fourths of the men who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Berkeley County sheriff threw their support Monday behind Duane Lewis.

Nine of the 12 said they will support the Santee Cooper law enforcement deputy chief in the May 5 primary runoff with North Charleston Police Lt. Brian Adams.

Rick Ollic, Dan Isgett, Chab Clarke, Omar Brown, John Waters, Ricky Driggers, Marty Housand, Jerry Merrithew, and Frank Fuda stood by Lewis at a news conference to say they will knock on Berkeley residents’ doors to help gather support for Lewis. The men represent 225 years of law enforcement, Lewis said.

“These men have strived to make positive changes in their communities,” he said. “It is truly an honor to have these men on my team as we move forward.”

Each of the candidates spoke on behalf of Lewis.

“Throughout this campaign, I’ve always said we’re better together, and today is no different,” said Berkeley County Chief Deputy Rick Ollic, who came in third behind Adams and Lewis in primary voting.

Robert Bittner, Chad Caldwell and Will Rogers also ran in the April 21 Republican primary.

Adams did not comment on the Lewis endorsements, but his campaign manager, David Carter, issued a statement Monday morning saying, in part, “The days of the ‘Good Ole Boy System’ are over in Berkeley County! Our campaign has a lot of positive momentum after the strong finish last Tuesday in the primary.”

Former Sheriff Wayne DeWitt, who held the position for 20 years, stepped down in February in the wake of his Dec. 28 arrest in a drunken driving case.

The winner of the May 5 runoff will face Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Smalls, a Democrat, in the June 9 special election.

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