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House 87 race ends in runoff between Calhoon and Carnes

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) The race for SC House District 87 has ended in a runoff between Paula Rawl Calhoon and Todd Carnes. Calhoon received the most votes with 2,539 and Carnes pulled 2,289 votes to force the runoff for the seat on June 26. This was as of 10:30 p.m. with most precincts reporting. One or the other needed 50% plus one and both polled in the low to mid 40% range. Austin Bowers, who was also vying for the seat, was knocked out after voters cast just 723 votes for him.

This is the race to fill the seat left open when Representative Todd Atwater decided to run for SC attorney general against incumbent Alan Wilson. This district includes portions of west Lexington and Red Bank. It looks as if Atwater will be in a runoff in that race statewide with Wilson who has held the job for a number of years. Wilson fell just short of the 50% plus one he needed to win again outright. William Herlong was also running against Wilson, but was trailing badly as of 10:30 Tuesday night.

This was as much a struggle about new Lexington versus old Lexington as it was about the issues. Calhoon has the old Lexington name recognition and a strong base of support that had easily whisked her now husband Donnie Myers into office for decades as the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor.

Carnes, a businessman, former missionary, and pastor is younger and has been seen as having been supported by the new and younger residents of the area. He seems to be the quintessential new Lexington, what Lexington slowly seems to be becoming.

Several dirty mailers came out from what appeared to be a supporter of Calhoon late in the race. It painted Carnes as a thief for supporting the hospitality tax when he served on Lexington Town Council. Carnes provided paperwork that showed where that tax money was being spent, but the perpetrators behind the attack mailer stood firm in their Photoshopped spectacle. Lexington County’s voters didn’t seem to be swayed by the mud and voted on the issues.

What happens between now and the primary is up to the candidates and their supporters. It remains to be seen if they will stick to the issues or sling baseless attacks meant to smear the other. Really, it seems as if this behavior is beneath both of them and many say that they both stick to the issues at hand. What their supporters do is anyone’s guess.

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