Originally created 06/13/06

Experts wrap up primary talk



COLUMBIA - South Carolinians tend not to get too excited about primary elections.

In the past 10 years, 75 percent to 85 percent of South Carolina's registered voters haven't voted in the primary. For anyone who's a little curious, here's a quick guide to what the experts are pondering, courtesy of Scott Huffmon of Winthrop University and Dave Woodard of Clemson University.

BIG MONEY: "I'm interested to see if $2 million of your own money can buy you the treasurer's race," Mr. Huffmon said.

Two of the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination for state treasurer gave hefty donations to their own campaigns: Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel has donated $455,000; Aiken state Sen. Greg Ryberg gave $2 million, the largest single donation in state history.

They face former House Majority Leader Rick Quinn and Easley homebuilder Jeff Willis. Most expect a runoff.

SPEEDING, A PLANE CRASH AND CARROLL CAMPBELL'S SON: Can Andre Bauer's campaign survive all three?

When the lieutenant governor crashed his plane May 23, Mr. Huffmon believed it would be bad news for a campaign already dinged by reports that Mr. Bauer had been stopped, but not ticketed, twice for speeding last winter.

But when it became clear that Mr. Bauer was seriously hurt, Mr. Huffmon changed his mind.

"I think it may have generated more sympathy than I initially thought," he said.

Adding interest to this race: one of Mr. Bauer's challengers is Mike Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell and favored candidate of the first President Bush.

Also running is Anderson surgeon Henry Jordan. Mr. Woodard said Mr. Campbell is the favorite.

DO LOTS OF VOTES FOR OSCAR LOVELACE SPELL trouble for Mark Sanford?: Neither Mr. Huffmon nor Mr. Woodard expects Prosperity doctor Oscar Lovelace to beat the governor in the Republican primary.

But what if Dr. Lovelace gets 15, 20, even 30 percent of the vote?

"One thing I think it does not mean is that all the people who vote for Lovelace are going to vote for the Democrat" in November, Mr. Huffmon said.

Dr. Lovelace will get votes from those who truly support him and from those wanting to send a message to Mr. Sanford, and those in the latter category will vote for Mr. Sanford in November, he said.

"The question is: The issues that drove Republicans to want to send Mr. Sanford a message, will those same issues drive moderates to the Democrats in November?" Mr. Huffmon asked.

WHO CARES, ANYWAY?: "Low turnout and lack of interest, I think, is the main story tomorrow," Mr. Woodard said. A lack of big issues and the absence of a presidential race equal few people at the polls, experts say.

Reach Kirsten Singleton at (803) 414-6611 or kirsten.singleton@morris.com.