Politics & Government

March 31, 2014

SC elections: The dance cards are filled out

The dance cards have been filled out for South Carolina’s 2014 elections and some incumbents have earlier-than-expected turns on the floor with primary opposition.

The dance cards have been filled out for South Carolina’s 2014 elections and some incumbents have earlier-than-expected turns on the floor with primary opposition.

With the end of candidate filing Sunday, here are storylines to watch in this year’s elections:

The governor has a primary : In a bit of a surprise, Gov. Nikki Haley, a first-term Republican, will have to dispatch former lawmaker and judge Tom Ervin in the June 10 primary for a rematch with Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. Haley, who beat Sheheen by 4.5 percentage points in 2010, has 78 percent favorability among Republicans, according to a Winthrop University poll last month. Ervin, an attorney upset about recent mismanagement allegations at the state’s child-welfare agency, said he will self-finance his campaign.

Name-dropping race for the No. 2 job : Mike Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, and former state Attorney General Henry McMaster headline the lieutenant governor’s GOP primary with Charleston developer Pat McKinney and retired pastor and Ray Moore. They will meet Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers in November.

Graham foes by the half-dozen : U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has six GOP challengers: Columbia pastor Det Bowers; state Sen. Lee Bright; Easley businessman Richard Cash; Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor; Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn; and Charleston PR executive Nancy Mace. (An expected seventh, Spartanburg police officer Dave Feliciano, did not file.) The Democrats have state Sen. Brad Hutto and Jay Stamper vying for the nomination.

South Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Tim Scott, appears to have an easy path to win the unexpired term left by Jim DeMint. His primary opponent, Randall Young, listed a non-working number on his candidacy form. Democrats running have no statewide recognition.

Local congressmen have primary challenges : U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, needs to get past Eddie McCain to face one of two Democrats, Phil Black or Ed Greenleaf. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House, faces Karen Smith in the primary to meet either. Republicans Anthony Culler and Leon Winn are battling for the GOP nod.

GOP Reps. Jeff Duncan of Laurens, Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and Tom Rice of Myrtle Beach don’t have primary challengers but will face competition in November. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, is only S.C. congressman to have no one filed against him.

Baker’s dozen for schools chief : Superintendent of education drew 13 candidates, including eight Republicans and four Democrats. The seat is open after first-term Republican Mick Zais decided not to seek re-election. A surprise in the last day of filing was the addition of Democratic state Rep. Jerry Govan, who will run for schools chief and his House seat at the same time.

June plans for some statewide officers : Statewide incumbents facing Republican primaries include: Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers, who faces Joe Farmer; Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, who will battle Robert Shelley; Adjutant General Bob Livingston, who meets James Breazeale; and State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who faces Brian Adams.

Another pair of Republicans — Attorney General Alan Wilson and Secretary of State Mark Hammond — have no primary opponents but face Democratic challengers in the fall.

Welcome back? : Some former lawmakers are trying to get back to the State House. Denny Neilson, who was the longest-serving member of the House when she lost a 2012 election after her district lines were redrawn, filed for the seat being vacated by Ted Vick, a Chesterfield Democrat facing a pair of drunken-driving charges. Neilson, a former Democrat, has filed as a Republican.

Democrat Curtis Brantley, who lost his Lowcountry seat in 2012 to Rep. Bill Bowers, D-Hampton, after district lines changed, is seeking a rematch. Former state representatives David Tribble, a Republican, and Vida Miller, a Democrat, are running again for seats held by Democrat Mike Anthony in Union County and Republican Stephen Goldfinch in Georgetown County, respectively.

308 : That was the number of votes separating Republican Kirkman Finlay and Democrat Joe McCulloch in their 2012 Richland County House race. Finlay won. McCulloch wants a rematch. The Columbia attorney thinks he can win now that Finlay has a record in the State House. Finlay said he has worked across the aisle on ethics reform. “I looking forward to a spirited race,” the Columbia businessman said.

Family feud

State Rep. Donna Wood has an primary opponent she knows well — her stepdaughter, Heather.

The first-term Spartanburg Republican separated from Heather Wood’s father in December.

Heather Wood, 23, said she entered the race because she is more familiar with the community.

Donna Wood “is not connected to people in the community like someone in her office should be,” said Heather Wood, who also noted she has worked on political campaigns since she was 16.

Donna Wood said her stepdaughter has a right to run, but she would not make her marriage an issue in the campaign.

“I have done a great job for people in my House district,” Donna Wood said.

The lawmaker said she is proud to have co-sponsored bill that would limit abortions and curb enacting the federal healthcare law in South Carolina.

Donna Wood said she opposes a bill that would reduce the amount of time of separation before a couple divorces to 150 days from a year.

“You need as long as can to repair a marriage,” she said. “I’m praying my marriage will be reconciled ... and my husband will have a change of heart.”

Andrew Shain

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