There weren’t too many surprises in South Carolina’s primaries, but there were a couple of interesting outcomes. It’s necessary, however, to note the turnout – a dismal 15% of registered voters – is not just dismal, but embarrassing. South Carolinians are among the nation’s most outspoken complainers, yet they can’t get off their butts for a few minutes to vote. Shameful!
Lindsey Graham: I suspect there will be quite a few pundits surprised at how easily Sen Lindsey Graham secured the Republican nomination for his seat. I thought he would win, but just barely make it over 50%. His 56 points in a seven person race was actually impressive. Yeah, he had a bunch of money, but in a state where the Tea Party is supposed to be so prominent, Graham met their match and took the win.
Tim Scott/Jim Clyburn: There is no surprise that Tim Scott won and won big. That’s not the highlight. What interests me is that he won with 90% of the vote. And? Well, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC6), former House Majority Whip and current Assistant Minority Leader, won his primary with 86% of the vote. And? Tim Scott is a black Republican running statewide for the first time in the reddest of states and Jim Clyburn, seeking his 12th term in office, is a powerful black congressman in a predominately black district. Wouldn’t conventional wisdom dictate that Tim Scott wouldn’t stand a chance and Jim Clyburn would win by something north of 90%.
Curtis Loftis: State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is one of South Carolina’s most popular politicians, primarily because he doesn’t conduct himself like a politician. He won his primary with 62% of the vote. So? What the hell were those other 38% – some 108,000 people – THINKING?
Joe Wilson/Eddie McCain: Political newcomer Eddie McCain took on Joe “You Lie” Wilson for the GOP nomination for House District 2. Though McCain was soundly trounced, his 18% showing was really quite good given he had no name recognition, no money and was trying to unseat an incumbent. Not bad, Eddie.
Lt. Governor: Former Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Henry McMaster missed the magic 50% and will go to a runoff against … who? Underfunded rival Mike Campbell gave wealthy businessman Pat McKinney a hard run for the second place finish. At this writing, less than 1,000 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast separate the two. A recount may be necessary to see who gets beat by McMaster in two weeks, but Campbell’s showing is an eye-opener.
Supt of Education: A runoff between Molly Spearman and Sally Atwater is what was expected, but what was not was Meka Childs’ poor (7%) showing. As current Supt of Education Mick Zais’ protege’ it seems there is change on the minds of South Carolina voters. It is going to be very interesting to see which, if any, of the “losing” candidates will be endorsing Spearman or Atwater.