voting (copy)

Voters will head to the polls on June 12 for the primaries. File

COLUMBIA — The two South Carolina races generating most of the attention this election season — the governor and Trey Gowdy's congressional seat — brought out a bevy of challengers as election filing closed Friday.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster will face four GOP foes in the June 12 primary: Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton and Greenville businessman John Warren.

A trio of Democrats are pitted against each other: Charleston businessman Phil Noble, Columbia state Rep. James Smith and Florence antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis.

There were no surprises at the end of filing with all eight candidates declaring their runs months ahead of time. The only new name to emerge was American Party hopeful Martin Barry, who will meet the major party primary winners in November.

The major surprise at the end of the two-week filing binge were the 19 candidates who applied to fill Gowdy's congressional spot.

The 4th District seat in Greenville and Spartanburg counties lured 13 Republicans, five Democrats and an American Party candidate.

A few early favorites in what is expected to be a hyper-competitive GOP primary include state Rep. Dan Hamilton, state Sen. William Timmons, Easley televangelist Mark Burns, Spartanburg GOP chairman Josh Kimbrell and James Epley, the former Upstate field director for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gowdy, a Spartanburg Republican who decided not to seek a fifth term, became a high-profile congressman known for heading investigations into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and possible Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.

Two S.C. congressional incumbents, Republicans Mark Sanford of Charleston and Tom Rice of Myrtle Beach, face primary challenges. Myrtle Beach businessman Larry Guy Hammond is running against Rice.

State Rep. Katie Arrington of Summerville is challenging Sanford along with the congressman's 2016 Democratic challenger Dimitri Cherny, who filed to run in the GOP primary. Cherny, who has a tattoo of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' face on his forearm, said the move confirms his "radical reputation."

In the S.C. House of Representatives, where all 124 seats are up for re-election, roughly 40 percent of incumbents will face no opposition in the primary or general elections.

Incumbents facing challenges include House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White of Anderson, Democrat Jerry Govan of Orangeburg and Charleston-area Republicans William Cogswell, Bill Crosby, Sylleste Davis, Chris Murphy, Samuel Rivers and Mike Sottile.

Eight House members are not seeking re-election.

Four hopefuls — three Republicans and a Democrat — filed for the Summerville seat that Arrington surrendered after one term to run for Congress.

Seth Rose, a Democratic Richland County councilman, is unopposed in succeeding Rep. James Smith, who is running for governor.

At least one of those seats will switch from Democrat to Republican hands with Rep. Mike Anthony's impending departure. Three Republicans filed for the Union County based seat. The GOP holds an 80-44 edge in the House.

In other statewide races, Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson's bid for a third term must go through two GOP primary foes, Rep. Todd Atwater and William Herlong, before one of them meets Democrat Constance Anastopoulo, a Charleston School of Law professor.

Republican Secretary of the State Mark Hammond is facing three GOP challengers for a fifth term, while Republican Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom is running unopposed for his fifth term. 

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, both Republicans, will wait until the general election to meet Democratic foes. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers will face two third-party candidate in November.

Two statewide races are gone in 2018.

The lieutenant governor is now part of a joint ticket and no longer elected separately. The next adjutant general will be appointed by the governor starting in January.

For a complete list of the 2018 ballot candidates in all 46 counties from Congress to governor down to County Council and Courthouse level races, go to

Follow Shain on Facebook and Twitter

Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.