Local Democrats back Williams, S.C. Republicans dump Rice

S.C. State Rep. Robert Williams with his wife Janice. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By Bobby Bryant




Darlington County voters last week swept state Rep. Robert Williams of Darlington into the Democratic nomination for a new term in the S.C. House, even as the county’s GOP voters helped sweep U.S. Rep. Tom Rice out of office when his current congressional term expires.

Williams, who has represented House District 62 since 2007, easily outdistanced his challenger, Hartsville City Councilman Bryson Caldwell, earning 69 percent of the primary vote (1,378 votes) to Caldwell’s 30 percent (605 votes).

Neither Williams nor Caldwell could immediately be reached for comment after the election. On his Facebook page, Caldwell wrote: “Huge thanks to the … citizens who used their right to vote … in the S.C. Democratic Primary. It is beyond exciting to know there are citizens who want progress in our district. I can’t say thank you enough to all of the leaders who decided to take a chance on change.

“Congratulations on the win to incumbent Rep. Robert Williams. I personally wish you the best as you continue serving.”

On Election Day, Caldwell posted on his Facebook page: “It is time to put an end to business as usual and put our best advocates in the fight for progress. Politics can no longer be a popularity contest.”

The Williams-Caldwell contest was the only local race on Darlington County ballots in the June 14 Democratic and Republican primaries. According to county election officials, 8,536 people voted in the primaries, with 5,522 casting ballots in the GOP primary and 3,014 voting in the Democratic primary.

Though it wasn’t a local fight, many had their eyes on the fate of 7th District Republican Congressman Tom Rice, who had voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump, still a powerful force in the Pee Dee.

Six Republicans challenged Rice for the GOP nomination last week, and one of them – Horry County state Rep. Russell Fry – knocked him out of the fall elections, claiming the GOP nomination for the seat. Trump had endorsed Fry. District-wide, Fry won by a 2-1 margin over Rice.

In Darlington County, Fry’s margin was even bigger. Based on unofficial returns, Fry claimed 2,556 votes in the county, or 46 percent of the votes cast in the GOP primary for that race. In the county, Rice got only 960 votes, or 17 percent. In county balloting, challenger Barbara Arthur of Hartsville outpaced Rice, with 1,585 votes, or 28 percent.

The other contenders for Rice’s seat barely made a dent in Darlington County. Garrett Barton won 98 votes, or 1 percent; Mark McBride got 76 votes, or 1.3 percent; Spencer A. Morris got 28 votes, or 0.5 percent; Ken Richardson got 168 votes, or 3 percent.

Statewide, Gov. Henry McMaster easily claimed the GOP nomination for re-election. In Darlington County, McMaster got 4,900 votes, or 90 percent, to challenger Harrison Musselwhite’s 499 votes, or 9 percent. In November, McMaster will face Joe Cunningham, who won the Democratic nomination for governor.

In Darlington County, Cunningham got 818 votes (20 percent). Another Democratic candidate for governor, Mia McLeod, carried the county with 1,226 votes (42 percent). Of the remaining Democratic contenders, Carlton Boyd got 421 votes (14 percent), Calvin McMillan got 153 votes (5 percent) and William Williams got 301 votes (10 percent).

In the race for state education superintendent, it appeared that Lisa Ellis would be the Democratic nominee and that a runoff between Kathy Maness and Ellen Weaver would be needed to determine the GOP nominee. A total of nine candidates were on the ballots in that race.

In Darlington County, here’s how the education superintendent’s race broke down. On the Democratic ballot, it was Ellis with 1,051 votes (36 percent), Gary Burgess with 809 votes (27 percent) and Jerry Govan with 1,038 votes (35 percent). On the Republican ballot, it was Maness with 2,250 votes (43 percent), Weaver with 1,216 votes (23 percent), Travis Bedson with 457 votes (8 percent), Bryan Chapman with 900 votes (17 percent), Kizzi Gibson with 193 votes (3.7 percent) and Lynda Leventis-Wells with 165 votes (3 percent).

S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond won the GOP nomination for another term. In Darlington County, Hammond got 4,093 votes (80 percent) to Keith Blandford’s 971 votes (19 percent).

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson also won the GOP nomination for a new term. In the county, Wilson got 3,651 votes (71 percent) to Lauren Martel’s 1,454 votes (28 percent).

S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers got the GOP nomination for another term. In Darlington County, Weathers got 3,664 votes (71 percent), Bill Bledsoe got 1,146 votes (22 percent) and Bob Rozier got 342 votes (6 percent).

In the race to choose a Democratic nominee to oppose U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in November, it appears there will be a runoff between candidates Catherine Fleming Bruce and Krystle Matthews. Locally, Bruce got 1,421 votes (49 percent), Matthews got 720 votes (25 percent) and Angela Geter got 725 votes (25 percent).

There were three “advisory questions” on the Republican primary ballot. Most Darlington County voters chose “yes” on all three. The questions were:

— 1. Should people have the right to register with the political party of their choice when they register to vote?

— 2. Should candidates for local school boards be able to run as a candidate of the political party of their choice, just like candidates for other elected offices?

— 3. In a situation where there is more than one person responsible for damages in a lawsuit, do you support changing S.C. law so that each person should pay damages based on that person’s actual share of fault?






Author: Stephan Drew

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Posts Remaining