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November 8, 2012

SC election storylines from around the state

A political newcomer, Democrat Julie-Ann Dixon, has unseated Richland County Councilwoman Val Hutchinson in Northeast Richland’s District 9.


Newcomer upsets GOP’s Hutchinson

A political newcomer, Democrat Julie-Ann Dixon, has unseated Richland County Councilwoman Val Hutchinson in Northeast Richland’s District 9.

Dixon said she was “a little bit surprised” by her 700-vote lead following a grass-roots campaign, knocking on doors. “I guess my hard work finally paid off,” she said.

Dixon, a 40-year-old mother of three, works with a nonprofit called Palmetto Development Group, helping people find work. She lives in Fox Run and works with children, families and communities as president of the Richland County Neighborhood Council.

Hutchinson did not concede. In fact, she expressed her intention to fight her ouster, citing the multitude of complaints about polling problems. “If I was beaten fair and square, I can certainly handle that, but there’s something about this that doesn’t pass the sniff test.”

Hutchinson is one of three Republicans on the 11-member council.

Dawn Hinshaw

Incumbents win on Richland school boards

In the Midlands’ largest school district, final results for the Richland 2 school board race had incumbents Susan Brill and Calvin “Chip” Jackson picking up second terms, with 18,352 and 17,877, respectively, according to unofficial results.

Newcomer Monica Elkins, a former Richland 2 teacher and administrator, picked up the third seat, with 16,802, unofficial results showed.

In Richland 1, incumbents Vince Ford and Barbara Scott were re-elected for two at-large seats, with 33,811 and 26,206 votes, respectively, according to unofficial results. In addition, in District 2, incumbent Jamie Devine won his seat, while Beatrice King and Cheryl Hinton Harris were unopposed in Districts 3 and 4, respectively.

Mindy Lucas

Council petition candidates fall short in Lexington County

Each of the six petition candidates for Lexington County Council seats was unsuccessful.

Kent Collins of Lexington, a former prosecutor, won the seat held by the retiring Smokey Davis. As the Republican nominee, Collins benefited from straight-ticket voting that propelled him well ahead of four petition candidates.

Two other Republican incumbents, Jim Kinard of Swansea and Bobby Keisler of Red Bank, also were victorious in matches against single petition challengers.

Tim Flach



Someone call the EPA!

The number of elected Republican office holders in Richland County continues to drop.

Entering today, four of Richland County’s 16 state legislators were Republicans.

By the end of Richland’s recount – or 2014, whichever comes first – that number could be three, which should qualify Richland Republicans for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

State Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, lost Tuesday to Democratic challenger Beth Bernstein, who portrayed Brady as an apologist for Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, in District 78, according to unofficial returns.

Also losing? Richland County Councilwoman Val Hutchinson, a Republican, leaving the GOP holding two of council’s 11 seats. In fact, Democrats won every contested council race.

The Republicans winning re-election? State Sen. John Courson in District 20, who wins many Democratic crossover voters for his support of USC and K-12 education, and state Rep. Nathan Ballentine, who lives in the Ballentine area but whose District 71 includes part of Richland. Ballentine, a close ally of Gov. Haley, was unopposed Tuesday.

Also, Republican Kirkman Finlay apparently won the House District 75 race over Democrat Joe McCulloch. But that race’s results – McCulloch winning in early results, then the late results, then – whoops – losing, yet could be contested.

From Staff Reports

Home county bails out Democratic rising star

Into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, partial returns indicated state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democratic rising star, was in danger of losing his S.C. House seat.

However, Sellers, the son of civil rights activist Cleveland Sellers, recovered to win a third term, defeating Republican challenger Dan Lawrence by about 1,500 votes. Sellers’ victory was sealed by his 3,000-plus winning margin in his home county of Bamberg.

Democrats quietly tout Sellers as potentially South Carolina’s first African-American governor. Republicans, of course, differ, touting U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, as potentially the state’s first black leader.

From Staff Reports

He once was lost, but now has won

Has any 2012 political story in South Carolina been stranger than the saga of state Rep. B.R. Skelton?

The Pickens Republican, originally elected in 2002, lost his GOP primary bid for another term. But Skelton was restored as the GOP nominee after his vanquisher, Ed Harris, was struck from the ballot for failing to file properly required financial disclosures.

Harris then qualified as a petition candidate for Tuesday’s ballot and was endorsed by the county GOP. Skelton, however, defeated him by 600-plus votes.

From Staff Reports

Gov. Haley ‘hopes and prays’ for Obama’s success

Is Gov. Nikki Haley mellowing?

Wednesday, the first-term Republican governor, who has told countless groups that the biggest impediment that she has faced as S.C. governor was President Barack Obama, sounded positively graceful.

After praising failed GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his wife as “two wonderful people filled with grace, strength and love of country,” Haley said in statement: “Since the day he was sworn into office back in 2009, we have hoped and prayed for President Obama’s success as, more than anything, we want to raise our children in an America that’s thriving and that offers our children the same blessings and opportunities it has offered the generations that preceded them. Those hopes and prayers continue today.

“Although South Carolina cast a majority of its votes in the other direction, our country has spoken. As Americans, we must respect this outcome, and, as governor, I will work together with President Obama wherever I can for the betterment of our state and country.”

From Staff Reports

Acts of kindness

Long lines at the polls — even with working voting machines — tested the tolerance of voters Tuesday. But many reported acts of kindness.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin showed up at Pontiac Elementary School a couple of times to deliver coffee, doughnuts and water bottles. At Kilbourne Elementary School, where the line coiled through the gymnasium, elderly voters were offered chairs to bide the time. At Dutch Fork Middle School, a pizza delivery surprised voters waiting outside in the early afternoon. Poll workers also passed out water bottles in several precincts.

Anne Connelly enjoyed taking an 85-year-old neighbor to the polls in Shandon. “It was a great experience,” Connelly wrote in an email. “I plan to help others get to the polls on future election days.”

From Staff Reports

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