By Paul Gable
South Carolina held elections Tuesday and almost nobody bothered to show up. Voter turnout, or lack of it, was the story of Tuesday’s primary elections. Less than 10 percent (9.88%) of registered voters statewide bothered to come to the polls.
Low turnout was expected as continuing stories of candidates being struck from the ballot over the last two months dominated the news, but, under 10 percent is horrible. The old Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had more voter excitement in the past than this election generated.
Even Horry County with the new 7th Congressional District, four contested House races and one contested Senate race to vote for barely broke through the 10 percent voter turnout threshold.
In the new 7th Congressional District, Gloria Bromell Tinubu may have avoided a runoff and won the Democratic nomination outright after nearly 2,300 votes for Ted Vick were tossed out of the ballot count. Vick dropped out of the race two weeks ago when he was arrested for DUI and weapons possession in Columbia.
The elimination of the Vick votes raised Tinubu’s overall percentage from 49 percent of all votes cast to 52 percent of the votes counted. Second place Preston Brittain left his campaign party at 10 p.m. preparing for a runoff only to learn later that it might not be happening.
Confusion reigns at this point because the S.C. Election Commission is reporting Tinubu won outright while the S.C. Democratic Party says there will be a runoff. Stay tuned.
Brittain polled 39 percent of the overall vote, but it was his 28 percent showing in his native Horry County that left him trailing. Bromell Tinubu claimed 62 percent of the Horry County vote.
On the Republican side, Andre Bauer led the ticket for the nomination with 32 percent of the vote while Tom Rice with 27 percent held off a late charging Jay Jordan (22%) to clinch a place in a runoff election in two weeks.
How the runoff will play out is anyone’s guess as Rice and Bauer fought to a virtual dead heat in Horry County while Bauer showed stronger results district wide. Where Jordan’s support, mainly from Florence and the western area of the district will go, if anywhere, along with that of fourth place Chad Prosser (10%) and fifth place Katherine Jenrette (4%) could go a long way in determining the runoff victor.
We hear Jordan will endorse Rice later today and the Rice camp is working hard to also get an endorsement from Prosser.
One other consideration is can the two candidates convince the 90 percent of voters that didn’t turn out for the primary to cast a ballot in the runoff? While it rarely happens that a runoff election will even draw the same vote totals as the initial primary, there is precedent for just such an occurrence in Horry County elections.
In the 1997 Myrtle Beach election for mayor, more voters turned out to vote in the runoff election than voted in the initial primary. Mark McBride finished second in the primary but jumped over incumbent Bob Grissom in the runoff election to claim the mayor’s race.
The closest race in the state saw Sen. Yancey McGill (Dist. 32) just manage to hold on to his seat by less than one percent of the vote overall. McGill garnered 50.32 percent to hold off challenger Cezar McKnight with 49.68 percent
Three House incumbents, Liston Barfield (Dist. 56), Tracy Edge (Dist. 104) and Nelson Hardwick (Dist. 106) easily turned back challengers. House District 68 saw Heather Ammons Crawford win her second primary in a week with 70 percent of the vote.
One of the highlights of the night in Horry County was in the Board of Education District 5 race. Challenger Janice Morreale outpolled Paul Peterson by a 54 – 46 percent margin to score an upset victory over the two term incumbent.