Originally created 06/26/02

Area voters supported 2 winners



AIKEN - For many South Carolina voters in Tuesday's state and congressional runoffs, a sense of civic duty urged them to return to the polls and finish the job started by the June 11 primary.

"I feel it's just as important to vote in the (runoff) as all the other ones," said Laurie Sprawls, of Aiken.

Almost 10,000 of Aiken County's registered voters, or 14.5 percent, cast ballots.

Being called to the polls twice in two weeks almost kept Sandra Thomas at home.

"I had to make myself come," she said outside the Aiken Municipal Building at mid-afternoon.

Rosemarie and Joseph Andrews, who reviewed a videotaped debate between governor candidates Mark Sanford and Bob Peeler before voting, said the runoff made it easier for them to narrow their choice for governor.

Aiken County voters chose Mr. Sanford almost 2-to-1 over Mr. Peeler. Mr. Sanford garnered 65 percent of the county vote.

Stuart Bedenbaugh, Aiken County's elections director, said most people were voting because of interest in the governor's race.

But strong interest also was shown in the 3rd District congressional race, which saw Gresham Barrett taking a commanding lead in the county throughout the night's tabulation. He ended up with almost 69 percent of Aiken County's vote.

Mr. Bedenbaugh made a prediction of turnout similar to that of the primary and was correct: 14.5 percent of the county's electorate voted Tuesday, compared to 16 percent June 11.

David Nix, the chairman of the Aiken County Republican Party, who publicly backed Mr. Sanford, said the perception that Mr. Peeler and other runoff candidates went negative might have affected the outcome.

Reach Josh Gelinas and Eric Williamson at (803) 279-6895 or eric.williamson@augustachronicle.com.