COLUMBIA - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer held a comfortable lead over his Democratic opponent with nearly all the state's counties reporting in a mandatory recount Thursday.
Democrat Jim Rex's lead in the state education superintendent's race narrowed from 564 votes to 440 votes with only Richland County remaining to report results.
Mr. Bauer has lost 120 votes so far in the recount, but still leads by 3,112 votes.
Mr. Bauer's opponent, Democrat Robert Barber scheduled a news conference this morning in Columbia an hour after the state Election Commission meets to certify the results of the recount.
Lachlan McIntosh, Mr. Barber's campaign manager, wouldn't say Mr. Barber planned to concede.
"I can't tell you anything because they're still counting votes," he said.
"I think Bauer's very safe," said Rick Beltram, the Spartanburg County GOP chairman who is leading Mr. Bauer's statewide recount efforts. Mr. Beltram said research had shown no candidate in a statewide race has been able to make up a deficit of more than 1,000 votes.
Mr. Rex was getting ready for a possible challenge of the results from Republican opponent Karen Floyd.
He sent an e-mail to supporters asking for donations, saying the "recount process has been a costly one, and we are working to make sure we have the necessary resources to withstand a challenge by Karen Floyd and her supporters."
Mr. Beltram said he is encouraging Ms. Floyd to challenge Mr. Rex, particularly after discovering 94 instances of people casting ballots in Spartanburg County that didn't sign affidavits to vote. Republicans will check to see whether similar things happened statewide, he said.
After the state Election Commission certified the Nov. 7 election results Wednesday, the education superintendent and lieutenant governor races and contests for state House districts 29 and 115 were within a 1 percent margin that triggers automatic recounts.
The recount numbers will be certified today, opening a five-day window to election protests by candidates.
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