This story was updated at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday morning. There were no significant changes in the way the races fell.
Lexington, S.C. (Paul Kirby) – Several interesting SC House races were in play in Lexington County’s Tuesday Republican primary. Voters made their choices at the polls known and, in most cases, the deal is done. None of the winners from Tuesday face a Democratic challenger in November’s general election. In the case of the State House Races, what you get on Tuesday is what you get from 2021 until 2023.
House District 88 that represents South Congaree, Pine Ridge, parts of Red Bank and Lexington was a five-way melee. There was no incumbent here because Mac Toole who had held the seat for years decided to step back for a time and did not run for reelection this year.
The race that started as a knock down drag out fight, ended that way as well. It pitted local businessman Mike Sturkie, who most felt was the frontrunner all along, against Brian Duncan, R.J. May, John Lastinger, and Eddie McCain. There’s almost no way we could have had a true win Tuesday. In South Carolina, a win requires 50% of the vote plus one. With five candidates in the race they were sure to split the vote; that’s exactly what happened sending House District 88 to a runoff to decide the winner on June 23rd.
When the ballots were finally counted, Sturkie was the top vote grabber with 1,788 of the district’s voting residents backing him. The second most votes went to May with 1,268 of the support stopping there. These are the two that will face each other in the runoff that should be held on June 23rd. They were followed by Lastinger who received a respectable 888 of the votes, Duncan who took 720, and McCain following up the rear with the 503 of the remaining votes tossed his way. This was updated at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, again after the final vote was tallied.
The key to winning the runoff will be who will receive the trust of the voters who cast their ballots for someone other than Sturkie or May on June 9th. The man who can grab most of those votes is sure to be the winner of that seat. Duncan has already said that he’ll back Sturkie in two weeks. Will his supporters follow him, who knows?
Voter turnout will also be paramount as turnout is notoriously abysmal in runoffs. You can bet both men will be working hard in the coming days trying to gather those voters up and ensuring they'll get to the polls. If you live in House 88, prepare yourself for another barrage of mailers and robocalls before the 23rd gets here. You’ll have to wait until the 24th to know who will represent you in Columbia starting in 2021.
House 96 was strongly contested as well. It was much more cordial as the incumbent Kit Spires faced newcomer Ryan McCabe. A lot of effort and money went into this race and both worked hard for every vote they gained. At 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, McCabe was prevailing with 54.18% of the total votes that were cast. At that same time, Spires was hovering around 45.82%, a decent showing in anyone’s book. Spires said in a telephone interview, “If it’s God’s will I don’t return to Columbia in 2021, he’ll certainly open a new chapter in my life.” By 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, after the last of the votes were counted, McCabe's votes totaled 2,164 and Spires had received 1,787.
Now it will be up to McCabe to see what he can get done in Columbia over the next two years. He’s pro-life and very conservative but will be just one voice of 124 in the house chambers in 2021. He’ll have to build alliances and form some relationships of his own if he has any chance of getting anything meaningful done in the coming sessions.
This was a good, clean race and as a resident of House 96 myself, I feel we’ll all be well represented in the SC House in the coming sessions. There’s sure to be some hurt feelings, not hard feelings as the sun comes up Wednesday morn. Both these men seem mature enough to handle a win gracefully or a loss with dignity as well.