Alan Wilson got a hug from his dad, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, after hearing the news. But he credited his victory to dozens of volunteers who worked tirelessly for the former prosecutor and member of the South Carolina National Guard.
"I'm elated. I'm excited," Wilson said. "This is just a wonderful night."
Alan Wilson will face Democrat Matthew Richardson, 37, a private practice attorney, in the general election and doesn't plan to change his runoff strategy of emphasizing that he is the only candidate who has prosecuted a case.
"I'm going to run it as a prosecutor and a combat veteran," Wilson said.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Wilson had 60 percent of the vote, while his opponent Leighton Lord got 40 percent.
Lord, 47, served for 12 years as Nexsen Pruet's managing partner until stepping down recently.
The competition between the runoff candidates had grown increasingly nasty in the two weeks since the primary.
Wilson, who served as a Lexington County prosecutor and worked in the state attorney general's office before going into private practice, made Lord's lack of prosecutorial experience an issue. He ran television ads telling voters that electing someone without those credentials would be "risky."
A third-party group called South Carolina Truth Squad aired television ads criticizing Wilson for failing the South Carolina bar exam on his first try and accusing the 36-year-old attorney of riding his father's coattails.
Joe Wilson has been in the U.S. House since 2001 and is perhaps best known for shouting "You lie!" at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress in September.