The Buzz

Elkins, Thigpen headed to runoff for House 79 seat

Monica Elkins
Monica Elkins

Richland 2 school board member Monica Elkins and Pastor Ivory Thigpen are headed for a runoff in the Democratic primary race for the S.C. House seat that state Rep. Mia McLeod is vacating.

Elkins and Thigpen dominated the three-way race, with Thigpen finishing ahead by a tiny margin.

Columbia attorney Vannie Williams Jr. pulled enough votes to force a June 28 runoff. The winner will run against Republican Donald Miles and Libertarian Victor Kocher in the Nov. 8 general election.

Thigpen said his campaign staff has “something to celebrate tonight,” adding he wants a debate with Elkins before the next vote.

“She’s riding on the name recognition and the fact that she’s been elected previously,” Thigpen said. “The more people take a closer look, I think the decision comes easier.”

Elkins said she was “very excited” with the result and looks forward to the runoff. She said she doesn’t need a debate. “People know what I stand for. I have a proven track record.”

Supporters said Elkins’ public vow to focus on improving the state’s K-12 education was popular with them.

“She’s big on education,” said Janice Campbell, a 55-year-old education consultant from northeast Richland County. “She’s from the area, so she’s familiar with the issues. I think she will vote to make a difference.”

Thigpen voters, meanwhile, said they appreciate his involvement in the northeast Richland community and his work as pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church. The pastor has said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper.

“I feel that he would have a strong voice,” said Veronica Watkins, who teaches at Killian Elementary School. “With his leadership and his skills, he would make a difference.”

S.C. Senate District 19

Experience trumped the promise of new energy in northern Richland County as state Sen. John Scott, D-Richland, crushed Richland County Councilman Torrey Rush in the Democratic primary.

Scott, who faces no general election opponent, is headed back to the S.C. Senate for a second term. He was in the S.C. House for 18 years before his leap to the Senate.

“It just simply means that the voters are keeping up on who they sent to the State House and holding them accountable,” Scott said. “They’re looking for people who work hard and gain experience.”

S.C. Senate District 21

State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, again cruised past community activist Wendy Brawley in the Democratic primary, clinching his seventh consecutive term.

Just as she did in 2008, Brawley campaigned on the promise of being more responsive to constituents’ concerns. Jackson faces no opposition in the general election.

“This race was a little more intense. It quite honestly got a little more heated than the previous race, so I was a bit concerned by that,” Jackson said. “In this era of anti-incumbent, you always wonder whether people think you’re doing a good job.”

S.C. House District 71

State Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, easily won a sixth term with a primary victory over Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski, who had taken aim at the incumbent’s attendance record.

“It’s a validation of the hard work I’ve done for the community and the state,” Ballentine said. “I’m just blessed the voters have sent me back to continue to serve. ... They appreciate how I fight for them locally and fight for them at the State House.”

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks

Richland County State House races

Democratic primary

Senate District 19

97 percent reporting

John Scott (i): 5,792

Torrey Rush: 3,574

Senate District 21

98 percent reporting

Darrell Jackson (i): 6,174

Wendy Brawley: 3,864

House District 77

94 percent reporting

Joe McEachern (i): 3,747

Raymond Mars: 884

House District 79

93 percent reporting

Ivory Thigpen (runoff): 2,053

Monica Elkins (runoff): 2,027

Vannie Williams Jr.: 319

House District 80

95 percent reporting

Jimmy Bales (i): 1,791

Lawrence Moore: 653

Brian Burke: 380

Republican primary

House District 71

96 percent reporting

Nathan Ballentine: 1,906

Bill Malinowski: 354