Originally created 06/25/02

Runoff to tie up loose ends



AIKEN - Since June 11, the gloves have come off in South Carolina politics.

In the race for the Republican nomination for governor, Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler has filled the airwaves with ads criticizing the record of his opponent, former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford.

In the race to replace U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, one candidate has accused another of spreading rumors of domestic violence.

Aiken County voters will be able to vote in the congressional race and four statewide races today.

Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken County's elections director, said turnout will mirror the 16 percent of the primary.

Candidates toured the state Monday, answering punches thrown by their opponents.

At the Aiken airport, surrounded by about 40 supporters, Mr. Sanford continued to "turn the other cheek" to the ads run by Mr. Peeler since Mr. Sanford outpolled him by about 3,000 votes in the primary.

Mr. Peeler has questioned Mr. Sanford's votes against a stamp supporting breast cancer research, among other issues.

"There is something wrong ... when you talk about these types of ads," Mr. Sanford said. "For us to go a year and a half and now have this come up, it says to most folks, it is a lot more about politics than policy."

Since the primary, Mr. Sanford has picked up endorsements from Mr. Graham and former Gov. Carroll Campbell. Both have appeared in TV ads for Mr. Sanford.

Mr. Peeler, campaigning Monday in the Upstate, said that endorsements don't necessarily mean more votes and that he stands by his ads.

After a recount ended in the race for the GOP nod in the 3rd Congressional District, Greenwood Rep. Jim Klauber gained the endorsement of the man he beat by 25 votes - former Anderson prosecutor George Ducworth - to face Westminster Rep. Gresham Barrett in the runoff.

An accusation that Mr. Klauber made during Saturday's debate in Aiken has soured the race. He claimed the Barrett campaign had spread a rumor that he beats his wife. The Barrett camp has vehemently denied the accusation.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT: Polls for today's runoff elections will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registered voters who did not vote June 11 can vote today.