Political newcomer Paula Rawl Calhoon wins runoff for SC House District 87 seat
Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) - Paula Rawl Calhoon has won the runoff for SC House District 87, a district that represents parts of the county in and west of the town of Lexington, out Hwy. 378 around the lake, and across I-20 into a portion of Red Bank. This is Calhoon’s first run for political office, but she’s well known in the area. She’s a lifelong resident, a small business owner, and recently married former Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers. He has always been tremendously well-known and well-liked and has wielded a tremendous amount of political influence in Lexington County for decades, something that certainly couldn't hurt Calhoon's campaign.
Calhoon claimed a seat left open when Rep. Todd Atwater decided to run for state attorney general against incumbent Alan Wilson. Atwater lost that bid in the runoff today effectively sending him back into the private sector for now.
Calhoon was pitted against former Lexington town councilman Todd Carnes. Carnes, a former missionary, church planter, and now a manager of a medical practice, had wanted to move upward thinking he could do more for the area from the statehouse. Carnes ran a fair and honest campaign but came up against backlash for his support of the hospitality tax that Lexington approved several years ago while he was on council. Although the tax is being used to make traffic improvements in Lexington now, some alleged that the council, including Carnes at the time, had no clear-cut plans in place when they asked the people to just trust them with their money.
In the end, Calhoon’s strong name recognition and the support of her husband’s extensive and decades old political powerhouse machine, her obvious likability, plus this image of Carnes as a “tax them now and figure out how to spend it later” candidate that some group smeared on him made the difference necessary to lift Calhoon over Carnes in the runoff by 448 votes of the 6,144 total ballots cast. She certainly has the contacts and personality to be a deal maker, peace maker, and effective member of our delegation moving forward. She has no Democratic opposition in November.
The final numbers were Calhoon 3,296 and Carnes 2,848.