By Paul Gable
Ken Richardson was the heavy favorite of voters Tuesday as he captured 71 percent of the vote in the Republican primary special election for Horry County School Board Chairman.
Incumbent school board member Janice Morreale gathered 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second with former Patricia Milley completing the field at 9 percent.
Richardson will face political newcomer Democrat Heather Johnson in the November general election.
Richardson’s campaign centered on safety in the schools, transparency of board decisions and strict oversight of the school district budget.
The Richardson victory continues a recent trend of incumbents with serious opposition in the primaries falling by the wayside.
Last month challenger Johnny Gardner bested incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman and William Bailey defeated incumbent Greg Duckworth for the GOP nomination for SC House District 104. The Richardson victory completed the Trifecta Tuesday night.
What is particularly interesting is all three incumbents had significant help from other incumbents during the primary campaigns.
Lazarus had the endorsement of at least 10 of his 11 fellow county council members as well as endorsements from the coastal mayors and members of the county legislative delegation. State legislators Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry ran the Lazarus campaign.
Duckworth had the active support of fellow legislators Alan Clemmons, Greg Hembree, Fry and Ammons Crawford, as well as North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, contacting voters to push Duckworth reelection.
Morreale, the current school board member for District 5, had a group of her fellow school board incumbents actively contacting voters to push her candidacy.
The pleas of the incumbents fell on deaf ears as the voters signaled that they wanted change rather than more of the same old politics in Horry County.
While Richardson has Democratic opposition in November, Gardner and Bailey have no opposition on the general election ballot so a new day has dawned on Horry County politics.