South Carolina is two months from the March 30 filing deadline for candidates who will seek their party’s nomination for state House and Senate seats.
Filing activity is being watched closely at the State House, where legislators face potentially opposition-drawing votes.
For example, Republican lawmakers, who hold a majority in both chambers, face the prospect of voting on a gas tax hike to repair the state’s roads that, even when paired with income or business tax cuts, could displease some no-new-taxes GOP voters. Or legislators could fail to pass a road repair bill and see just how angry voters are over roads.
All 176 seats are up for election in November.
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The Buzz sifted through ethics filings, social media news reports and press releases to get an idea of how many sitting legislators already have challengers for their party’s nomination or in the general election in the fall.
Quite a few, including almost a dozen races in the 46-member Senate.
And, with two months to go, more challengers are possible.
District 2: Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, has two challengers in the June GOP primary – Donald Joslyn, an Army veteran who has worked in politics with the Anderson County Republican Party, and Rex Rice, a former S.C. representative who owns a construction and land development company, and cattle farm. Rice ran unsuccessfully as a petition candidate against Martin, head of the Senate’s powerful Judiciary Committee, in 2012.
District 4: The seat – formerly held by Sen. Billy O’Dell, who passed away earlier this month – has drawn three Republicans candidates: Rockey Burgess, a Williamston town councilman; Mike Gambrell, who has been in the S.C. House for 10 years and is self-employed at M&R Enterprises, a garbage services and landscaping company; and James “Tripp” Padgett, a Greenwood attorney.
District 5: Sen. Tom Corbin, R-Greenville, has a primary challenger – John White, a Spartanburg attorney who was on the finance committees of GOP presidential candidates George W. Bush and John McCain.
District 6: Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, has two primary challengers – former S.C. Transportation Department commissioner Johnny Edwards, owner of Edwards Piping and Machinery, and William Timmons, an assistant solicitor and entrepreneur.
District 10: Sen. Floyd Nicholson, D-Greenwood, could have a challenger in the general election. Republican Jennings McAbee Sr. has opened a campaign account. Reached by phone Friday, McAbee told The Buzz he was considering a run, but had not yet made a decision. McAbee lost to Nicholson in 2012.
District 12: Sen. Lee Bright, the Spartanburg Tea Party firebrand who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in the 2014 GOP primary, has three primary challengers: David McCraw, a Greer business owner; Duncan Mayor Lisa Scott, who runs a property rental company; and Scott Talley, an attorney and former state representative.
District 22: The seat being vacated by state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, who is retiring, already has two general election competitors. Mia McLeod, a Democratic state representative for five years and communications consultant, is running as a Democrat. Susan Brill, a Richland 2 school board member and former Richland County Council member, plans to run as a Republican.
District 34: The seat being vacated by Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown, has one announced candidate – controversial Republican state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, an attorney.
District 41: The seat being vacated by Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston, has four GOP contenders: Culver Kidd, a prosecutor; Tim Mallard, a former Charleston City Council member and president of Mallard & Associates; Roy Maybank, an attorney; and Sandy Senn, a lawyer who has worked as general counsel for the S.C. Sheriff’s Association.
S.C. House races (updated Feb. 4)
District 40: Rep. Walt McLeod, D-Newberry, is retiring after 20 years in the House. At least two candidates will face off in the general election – Democrat Carlton Kinard, immediate past student body president at Newberry College, and Republican Rick Martin, who owns Newberry’s Battery Outlet.
District 42: Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union, will face a Republican contender in the general election – Tommy Mann, a former associate pastor at Philippi Baptist Church and substitute teacher for Union County schools.
District 45: Rep. Deborah Long, R-Lancaster, is retiring after four terms. Brandon Newton, Lancaster County GOP chairman, is the favorite to be her successor.
District 79: Rep. McLeod, D-Richland, will vacate her House seat to run for the state Senate. At least two Democrats plan to run to succeed her – Ivory Thigpen, a pastor and chiropractor, and Monica Elkins, a Richland 2 school board trustee and 25-year educator.
District 81: Rep. Don Wells, R-Aiken, is retiring from the House. K.T. Ruthven, the Aiken County GOP chairman, is running to succeed Wells.
District 94: Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Dorchester, is not seeking re-election as she runs for Congress against incumbent 1st District U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston. Republican Carroll Duncan, a Dorchester County Council member, is running for Horne’s seat.
District 110: Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, is retiring. At least four Republicans are running to succeed him: Will Freeman, who works it the tourism industry, Russell Guerard, a real estate broker who ran against Limehouse in 2014; attorney Trey Harrell, the son of former S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell; and Edward Phipps, an attorney.
District 114: Rep. Mary Tinkler, D-Charleston, who won former Speaker Harrell’s seat after the Republican pleaded guilty to charges of misusing campaign money, will face Charleston County GOP chairwoman Lin Bennett in the historically Republican district in the November general election.
2016 in SC
Ted Cruz: The Republican U.S. senator from Texas will hold a post-Iowa caucus rally at Wren High School in Anderson at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Donald Trump: The Republican New York real estate mogul will hold a rally at the Florence Civic Center at 7 p.m. Friday.
Jamie Self and Andrew Shain contributed