Lexington County will be the scene for most of the political action at primary elections in the Midlands.
That picture emerged Friday as Democrats and Republicans ended filing for races on the June 12 ballot.
Virtually every incumbent in Lexington County — all Republicans — faces a contest, some from multiple challengers.
It’s a situation that political leaders say stems largely from rebellion and redistricting.
All five County Council members are in races created mostly by the Tea Party wing of the GOP fanning anti-incumbent fervor.
Some state Senate incumbents in the area face opposition in radically reshaped districts but most House members escaped major challenges. Among key matchups:
• In Senate District 20 stretching from downtown Columbia to St. Andrews and Irmo, Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson entered the Democratic primary at the last minute against attorney Robert Rikard. The winner will take on Senate leader John Courson, a Columbia Republican, in the fall.
• In Senate District 18 stretching around Lake Murray, incumbent Ronnie Cromer, of Newberry, faces a field that includes former Lexington County GOP chairman Rich Bolen and former WIS-TV broadcaster Kara Gormley. Cromer is running for the first time in a race where more than half the population is outside his home area.
• In House District 75 in eastern Columbia, Republicans James Corbett and Kirkman Finlay III are vying to succeed retiring Rep. James Harrison, with the winner facing Democratic leader and attorney Joe McCulloch in the fall.
• In Senate District 23 in southern Lexington County, it’s a rematch as GOP activist Katrina Shealy again takes on incumbent Jake Knotts, no friend of Gov. Nikki Haley.
• In Senate District 26 in southern Lexington and Richland counties and nearby areas, three Republicans are vying for the chance to take on long-time Democrat Nikki Setzler in the fall.
In Lexington County, the picture is “very reminiscent” of 20 years ago when conservative elements targeted incumbents using complaints about taxes and spending, retiring Councilman Smokey Davis of Lexington said.
Six Republicans are vying to replace Davis to represent the district centered in Lexington and part of the south shore of Lake Murray. No Democrat is running.
Tea Party candidates are “fed up” with fiscal practices and incentives given to attract jobs, said Cory Norris of Chapin, a founder of the local chapter who is among those seeking a council post.
“It’s time to get them out,” he said.
But the group’s effort to recruit challengers across the board fell short and its interest will focus on council races, he said.
Another Lexington County incumbent, clerk of court Beth Carrigg, no favorite of the Republican party establishment, faces three challengers that include a former employee who alleges she takes too much vacation.
And former Richland County coroner Frank Barron is seeking to revive his political career on a new stage, taking on long-time Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman.
The spring election season appears to be much quieter in neighboring Richland County, with only three County Council incumbents facing primary challenges.
• In Senate District 18 stretching around lake Murray, incumbent Ronnie Cromer
• In Senate District 20, Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson
• In Senate District 23 in southern Lexington County, it’s a rematch as GOP activist Katrina Shealy
• In Senate District 26 in southern Lexington and Richland counties and nearby areas, three Republicans are vying for the chance to take on long-time Democrat Nikki Setzler
• In House District 75 in eastern Columbia, two Republicans want to the GOP choice succeed retiring Rep. James Harrison
• Six Republicans are seeking to replace Davis in a County Council district centered in Lexington and part of the south shore of Lake Murray. No Democrat is running.
• Former Richland County coroner Frank Barron
• Lexington County clerk of court Beth Carrigg