Attention on Graham, state officers in SC primary

COLUMBIA — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham won South Carolina’s Republican party outright Tuesday, defeating six tea party challengers and avoiding a runoff.


Graham, 58, had about 59 percent of the vote in early returns, far more than needed to avoid the runoff. State Sen. Lee Bright came in second, with nearly 14 percent.

Aside from Bright, those arrayed against Graham included Columbia pastor Det Bowers, Upstate businessman Richard Cash and Charleston-area businesswoman Nancy Mace, the first female cadet graduate from The Citadel. Orangeburg County attorney Bill Connor and Columbia lawyer Ben­jamin Dunn were also seeking the nomination.

Graham, who has been in office since 2002, had a hefty fundraising advantage: He has raised more than $12 million since his last re-election bid in 2008, while none of his opponents passed the $1 million mark.

The challengers have hammered away at Graham, saying he’s not conservative enough. That didn’t matter to Ben Lister, 48, a financial planner from Green­ville who voted for the senator.

“I know that some people are saying he should be more conservative, but what does that mean?” Lister asked. “I want a politician who actually thinks about the issues instead of going along with the crowd.”

Meanwhile, Graham’s fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott won his primary by a wide margin, setting the stage for South Carolina to elect a black person to the U.S. Senate for the first time.
Scott was appointed to the seat in 2012 after Jim DeMint stepped down, and the general election winner will serve the rest of DeMint’s term.

The Democrats had two primaries, though it’s widely expected that the Senate seats will remain in the GOP’s hands.

State Sen. Brad Hutto won the nomination for Graham’s seat, while Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dicker­son was nominated to face Scott. Dickerson is black, making this South Carolina’s first U.S. Senate general election between two black can­didates.


• Former Attorney General Henry McMaster has advanced to a runoff to be the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. The second-place finisher is too close to call between retired Kiawah Island developer Pat McKinney and Mike Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell.

• Two Republicans and two Democrats advanced to runoffs in the race for education superintendent. In the GOP race, Sally Atwater and Molly Spearman topped the polls. In the Democratic race, Sheila Gallagher and Tom Thompson were the biggest vote getters.

• Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson collected 86 percent of the vote to swamp Eddie McCain in the state’s 2nd District.

• In other statewide races, three incumbents won their GOP primaries – Adjutant General Bob Livingston, Treasurer Curtis Loftis and Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers.

– Associated Press