Originally created 11/07/02

County boosts victory by GOP



AIKEN - State Rep. Charles Sharpe, R-Wagener, the agriculture commissioner-elect, will become the first resident of Aiken County since at least 1900 to hold a constitutional office when he takes office in January.

While Mr. Sharpe and state Sen. Greg Ryberg, the losing Republican candidate for state treasurer, won their home turf, Mr. Ryberg had the smallest margin of victory in races the GOP won in the county Tuesday.

The GOP swept races for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller general and agriculture commissioner in Aiken and statewide. About 57.6 percent of registered voters in Aiken County cast ballots.

Mr. Ryberg was about the only candidate who didn't seem to benefit from the GOP statewide get-out-the-vote push. He lost to Treasurer Grady Patterson, the Democrat with 30 years of combined experience in the office, 52 percent to 48 percent - a margin of about 46,000 votes.

Although the senator defeated Mr. Patterson in Aiken County - 24,647 to 14,625 - his margin of victory was 906 votes smaller than that of state Sen. Andre Bauer, who beat Sen. Phil Leventis by 10,928 votes in Aiken County in the race for lieutenant governor.

Mr. Sharpe beat Newberry farmer John Long in the county by a margin of 11,645 votes. He won statewide by about 5,500 votes.

Mr. Ryberg, a three-time senator with three years left in his term, did not respond to messages left with him Wednesday and kept a low profile as returns came in Tuesday night.

Mr. Sharpe said he is looking forward to getting to work.

"I had a real formidable opponent," he said. "I think I just worked harder. I just want to get in there and make sure everything's right. I want to push the office forward."

Mr. Sharpe's replacement as House 86 representative will be the man he encouraged to run for the seat.

Aiken businessman and Republican Jim Stewart defeated his Democratic opponent, prosecutor Everett Chandler, 65 percent to 35 percent.

The other contested House seat up for grabs in Aiken County, House District 96, which includes the Wagener-Salley area after redistricting, will also be Republican.

Kenneth Clark beat Robert White III 65 percent to 35 percent. Mr. White won the Aiken County portion by five votes, 487 to 482.

Democrat Kathy Rawls defeated Republican Al Brodie 55 percent to 45 percent in Aiken County Council District 1.

In District 6, Republican Charles Barton beat Democrat Danny Porter 72 percent to 28 percent.

Districts 2 and 5 were uncontested.

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