COLUMBIA, S.C. - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer survived a plane crash and dodged speeding tickets on his way to a runoff against Republican challenger Mike Campbell on Tuesday.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting unofficial results, Campbell received 45 percent of vote to Bauer's 37 percent. A third GOP candidate, Dr. Henry Jordan, trailed with 18 percent.
"South Carolina has been terrific to the Campbell family. We've been blessed in so, so many ways," said Campbell, younger son of ex-Gov. Carroll Campbell who died in December. "Dad's here in spirit.... We're going to keep fighting the good fight."
Bauer had a low-key night. He briefly appeared with supporters at a restaurant downtown but spent most of the day and night recuperating at home. Bauer was released from the hospital Monday following surgery on his left heel, shattered when his plane crashed May 23.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that Bauer had managed to avoid speeding tickets at least twice - once after he was caught going more than 100 mph.
The winner of the June 27 runoff will face Democrat Robert Barber.
Campbell and about 100 supporters celebrated Tuesday with a beach band, country music and an appearance by pro wrestler Ric Flair.
"Mike Campbell deserves any position that can possibly be awarded to him," Flair said as the whole crowd cheered.
Bauer did not return messages left late Tuesday seeking comments on the runoff.
Jordan, who entered the race just before the filing deadline in March, said he was "a little disappointed but not too surprised. "When you start with only nine weeks to go... it would take a miracle to win," he said. "I've got more time to fish and spend with my grandkids."
Earlier in the day, Bauer said his main concern was not whether he wins or loses.
"I've got a different attitude than I've had in past elections. I'm just glad to be out," said Bauer, standing with the aid of crutches, greeting voters at an Irmo polling place.
The incumbent said the primary race would have been much different had his plane crash not forced his campaign into hibernation.
"If you look at my past elections, the real surge came at the end," he said, citing his long walks to greet voters. "It definitely hurt (the campaign).... Now I look weak."
Bauer said he felt worse Monday than any other day since the crash. He said he thinks the medicines he's taking made him sick, though he said he felt better Tuesday.
The accident definitely changed his perspective, he said.
"Look at me. I'm beat up," Bauer said. "It's a major ordeal just to take a shower."
Many voters said Bauer lost their vote long before his plane crash.
"Bauer lost me when he had that traffic stop downtown," said John Adams of Irmo, who voted for Campbell. In 2003, a police officer stopped Bauer for driving 60 mph in a 35 mph zone then drew his gun when the lieutenant governor got out of his car and approached the officer.
"I'm not sure he's mature enough," Adams said.
Tom Chambers of Irmo said he also voted for Campbell. "Anybody but Andre Bauer," he said. "I think Andre is an imbecile."
Houston Bishop of Irmo said the speeding incidents didn't bother him. "I like the way he drives," he said. His wife, Ann Bishop, said Campbell's family connections turned her off, particularly the endorsement of former President George H. Bush.
Others liked Campbell's family background.
"We just feel like giving this young Campbell man an opportunity," said Wanda Wiggins, voting at North Augusta High School. "If he's learned anything from his father, he ought to do real well."