COLUMBIA --- Four Aiken-area Republicans face no Democratic competition for state legislative seats in the Nov. 4 election, in part, because Aiken Democrats are focusing on capturing the area's two congressional districts.
"It's a very red district, and there are a lot of people who have been discouraged trying to run (in state races) and hitting a brick wall," said Jerry Sundt, the spokesman for the Aiken County Democratic Party.
"There are a lot of folks who are saying 'what's the use?' " he added.
Mr. Sundt said he and other Democrats are pinning their hopes on Rob Miller, who is running against U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson for the 2nd congressional district, and Jane Ballard Dyer, who is challenging Rep. Gresham Barrett for the 3rd congressional district.
"These are young, bright, hard-charging folks," said Mr. Sundt, adding that it has traditionally been difficult to recruit strong candidates for state and federal office in the Aiken area.
Area Republicans who are facing no Democratic foes next month include state Sen. Greg Ryberg of Aiken, state Rep. L. Kit Spires of Pelion, state Rep. Jim Stewart of Aiken and Tom Young, who is running for the seat held by retiring state Rep. Skipper Perry of Aiken.
For Mr. Young, who narrowly prevailed in a runoff of a four-way GOP primary in June, facing no Democratic rival is just fine.
"I campaigned just as hard as I could for 41/2 months," he said. "Not having opposition in the November general election has allowed me to get a head start on some of the issues that I am going to be facing when I begin service in January."
But while a one-man race gives candidates a coast into office, it also makes for a quiet general-election season, cautions Clemson University political science professor Bruce Ransom.
"Ideally, you'd have two candidates," he said. "Then you get an opportunity to hear not only issue positions, but you have them challenged in debates or speeches. It creates some excitement. That's in keeping with the Democratic process."
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