Florence County councilman Ken Ard is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, pulling out a strong win over Bill Connor in the GOP runoff.

With nearly 90 percent of the vote counted, Ard had 61 percent of the returns Tuesday to Connor's 39 percent. Connor, an Orangeburg attorney and Army reservist, is a Citadel graduate.

For the runoff, Ard and Connor campaigned on recruiting businesses and overhauling the state's piecemeal tax system. Ard said Tuesday that the difference was the depth of his supporters, noting that if he wins in November it would make a statement for voters around Florence.

"The Pee Dee hardly has an opportunity to elect a statewide official," he said, adding that his win was humbling for "a kid who grew up in a town with no stoplights."

Ashley Cooper, a Charleston lawyer and former aide to retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, ran unopposed on the Democratic side, setting up their November showdown.

Ard, 46, has served two terms on council. He planned to run the office like a "business" and not as a political one, saying business efficiency is what is needed in the office.

The lieutenant governor succeeds the governor should the top officeholder die or leave office. South Carolina is among 18 states where the two are elected separately.

Republican incumbent Andre Bauer is leaving after serving two terms, and failing in his bid for governor.

The lieutenant governor also presides over the Senate and oversees the state Office on Aging.

Ard was the only non-lawyer in the GOP race and attended Wofford College but did not graduate.

Larry Richter, of Mount Pleasant, a former judge, and Eleanor Kitzman, of Columbia, the former state insurance director, finished toward the end of the GOP pack in the primary two weeks ago.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551 or skropf@postandcourier.com.