The race for State House District 81 tightened a bit after absentee and provisional ballots were counted, but Bart Blackwell still emerged the winner, by 33 votes.
Turnout was so low — 7 percent — that the percentages changed only slightly. Blackwell got 50.8 percent of the vote and KT Ruthven got 49.2 percent. The 1.6-percentage-point margin remains above the trigger for a mandatory recount.
The results have been certified by the state Election Commission and are considered final. They show Blackwell with 1,042 votes to Ruthven’s 1,009.
Ruthven finished on top in the June 14 primary with 1,357 votes, or 43 percent, and Blackwell came in second with 848 votes, or 27 percent. Chris Austin and Jeremy O’Donnell rounded out the field.
There is no Democratic candidate for the seat in the November general election.
On Tuesday night, Blackwell said he was surprised to have reversed the results in the runoff and said perhaps Ruthven’s lead in the primary had lulled some of his supporters to sleep.
“Some of the predictions were that KT had such a commanding lead that his people wouldn’t show up. My folks knew I needed every vote,” he said.
Ruthven resigned as Aiken County Republican Party chairman to seek the state House post, left vacant by the retirement of Don Wells.
Blackwell, the president of B&S Machine Tool Inc. and an Air Force veteran, favors funding roads and bridges through raising the state gas tax with an offset in income tax, while Ruthven opposed any new taxes and signed a pledge to that effect.
Blackwell said he would try to boost technical education and work on ethics reform, including term limits, when he takes office in January.