COLUMBIA — Attorney General Alan Wilson won a third term as South Carolina's top prosecutor, beating back opponents' criticisms about his ties to a once-powerful GOP political consultant at the center of a Statehouse corruption probe.
Wilson easily defeated Democrat Constance Anastopoulo on Tuesday with 55 percent of the votes, after fending off two GOP challengers in June.
All of Wilson's opponents this year pointed to his connections with Richard Quinn, whose son, former Rep. Rick Quinn, resigned his House seat in December as part of a plea deal for him and his father. The investigation by Solicitor David Pascoe ensnared five other legislators. Three of them also pleaded guilty and resigned.
In a recent report, the state grand jury accused Wilson of stymieing the corruption investigation after handing the case to Pascoe in 2014. Despite widespread speculation, Wilson was never indicted.
Wilson has argued there's "no one in the state of South Carolina who has fought public corruption harder than me."
Anastopoulo touted her background as a Charleston School of Law ethics professor. Voters likely knew her last name from the TV ads of her defense attorney husband: “Don’t scream, call Akim!”
The Statehouse probe appears to be wrapping up, with one former legislator's case still pending. Last month's jury conviction of former House Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison resulted in the first prison sentence of the probe. Harrison is expected to appeal that 18-month sentence.
In the Statehouse, former state Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian will replace GOP Sen. John Courson, who pleaded guilty in June to misconduct and resigned.
Harpootlian, known for his colorful personality, defeated attorney Benjamin Dunn in the special election with 52 percent of the votes, flipping the seat Courson had held for 34 years. In a state where Republicans control both legislative chambers and all statewide offices, it was a rare turn, particularly for the Senate.
In the House, both Republicans and Democrats flipped two seats, resulting in a draw for the caucuses.
Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Gilliam flipped a seat to Republicans. No Democrat ran to replace retiring 16-year Rep. Mike Anthony of Union. And Republican Mandy Kimmons of Summerville ousted 12-year incumbent Rep. Patsy Knight, a St. George Democrat.
But GOP Rep. Bill Crosby of North Charleston, first elected in 2010, lost to Democrat Krystle Simmons for the seat representing parts of Berkeley and Charleston counties.
And Rep. Samuel Rivers of Goose Creek, the Legislature's lone black Republican, lost to J.A. Moore of North Charleston. Rivers, a pastor first elected in 2012, lost by about 450 votes, the smallest margin among the ousted incumbents.
In other statewide races, Secretary of State Mark Hammond won a sixth term against retired Army Maj. Melvin Whittenburg, and Treasurer Curtis Loftis defeated Rosalyn Glenn.
Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers were also re-elected. Neither faced major-party opposition this year.
Note: An earlier version did not include incumbent Rep. Samuel Rivers losing his seat.