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ELECTION RESULTS: Mace, McMaster, Cunningham among SC primary winners

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 4:00 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 1:42 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Voters decided key races in Tuesday’s state primaries, selecting the two candidates who will face off for governor and settling a battle in the First Congressional district.

Rep. Nancy Mace has declared a victory in the Republican primary for the First Congressional District.

The Associated Press had not yet called the race when Mace thanked her supporters. But as of 11 p.m., with 83% of precincts reporting, Mace had 53% of the vote compared with Katie Arrington’s 45%.

“This was an extraordinary campaign, with extraordinary people on the ground and extraordinary voters who know what it’s going to take to ‘Keep the First,’” Mace told supporters. “I am looking forward to very much continuing the work that we started when we flip the seat in November of 2020. I promised when I ran in 2020 that I would be an independent voice. I promised that I would not toe the party line especially when Republicans spent too much and taxed too much.”

ELECTION RESULTS: Click here for the latest numbers. (Click the green “More Elections” button to toggle between Lowcountry and State races.)

She said the nation needs strong fiscal conservatives, people who will be serious about balancing the budget, cutting taxes and finding solutions to the challenges our country faces today.

Gov. Nikki Haley, who endorsed Mace for her primary bid, released a statement after Mace claimed the win:

It’s a great day in South Carolina! The Lowcountry came out big for our congresswoman, Nancy Mace. Nancy has fought for us, now we need to continue to fight for her. Let’s unite, defend the First, and keep this seat red this November.

Arrington spoke with her supporters briefly after Mace began her speech, telling them not to be sad about the outcome of the primary.

“Be good people and know that this does not define you, it does not define me and that we live in the best state in the country,” she said. “We live in the best district in the country. And that tomorrow the sun will rise. And we need to remember key words: ‘Believe in America.’”

Arrington said she was sorry she was not able to give former President Donald Trump the birthday present she hoped to: a win in the primary. Tuesday was Trump’s 76th birthday. Trump endorsed Arrington in her bid to make Mace a one-term Congresswoman.

She also demanded an apology from Mace, whom she accused of lying about her.

“Nancy, you’re going to do one thing. I didn’t lose my clearance. I didn’t get fired. And you owe me an apology for that,” she said.

Mace will face Democrat Dr. Annie Andrews in November.

McMaster, Cunningham will face off for governor

The race for governor in South Carolina in November will be between incumbent Henry McMaster and Joe Cunningham.

The two won their respective primaries Tuesday night. McMaster’s was the first race called by the Associated Press. That happened less than an hour after polls closed.

Former U.S. First District Congressman Joe Cunningham pulled off a victory in the Democratic primary Tuesday, defeating four other candidates.

Cunningham’s win was not called until after 10 p.m., more than three hours after polls closed. He defeated state Sen. Mia McLeod, health care advocate Carlton Boyd, Calvin McMillan and William H. Williams.

As of 10:30 p.m., Cunningham had 56% of the vote, with McLeod pulling in 31%. The other three candidates each 5% or less.

Cunningham thanked his competitors, saying he looks forward to working with them as “we bring our state out of the past and into the future.” He also thanked the voters.

“I cannot express my appreciation for the trust that you placed in me and I promise you, I will never ever let you down,” he said.

Cunningham criticized McMaster, who he called not just a “career politician” but a “forever politician.”

“Our schools remain at the bottom of every list, our rank, literally dead last in the country,” he said. “We’re losing out on major economic projects because companies, they want to relocate where they are good schools, safe rows, a healthy workforce and leadership with a vision for the future. And right now we don’t have any of that.”

He also offered a sports analogy, saying coaches are fired after one or two losing seasons, then claimed McMaster is “going on 40 straight losing seasons.”

But Cunningham will face a difficult hurdle: No Democrat has captured South Carolina’s top office in 20 years.

The Associated Press declared incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster as the winner of the Republican primary for governor just before 7:45 p.m.

McMaster, who is seeking his second full term as governor was challenged in the Republican primary by Harrison Musselwhite. As of just before 9 p.m., McMaster had 84% of the early totals, compared with Musselwhite’s 16%.

McMaster told supporters Tuesday night he is honored by the trust and confidence people placed in him.

“State Government is in the best physical shape we’ve ever been. We have the largest budget surplus, plus the largest rainy day reserve fund and the lowest debt ever in the history of our state,” McMaster said. “That’s because in South Carolina we’re doing it right. We believe in family we believe in God. We aren’t afraid to say so. We believe in the right to work. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we will fight to protect them.”

He said in the last year, the state broke over 10 years’ worth of records for new job recruitment and capital investment.

“We’ve cut taxes on our small businesses and we’ve returned money back to the taxpayers and in the next few days, I will sign into law the largest income tax cut in the history of our state,” he said. “We’re going to give back $1 billion in income tax rebate. That’s a first as well.”

READ MORE: McMaster looks for record run as South Carolina governor

Meanwhile, in other statewide races, incumbents Mark Hammond, Hugh Weathers, and Alan Wilson were declared winners of the Republican primary races for secretary of state, agriculture commissioner and attorney general, respectively.

Clyburn wins Democratic primary for 6th Congressional District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn easily defeated his Democratic challengers in the primary for the Sixth Congressional District. That means Clyburn won the chance to run for a 16th term in November.

“I’m thankful to the people of South Carolina for what looks like an overwhelming victory,” the Congressman said Tuesday night.

Clyburn credited his long tenure to his upbringing as the son of a minister who passed along an important lesson from the book of Matthew.

“It’s not their words that matter, it’s the deeds,” he said. “I have tried throughout my public career to fulfill the promises that I make to the American people, and I do that in South Carolina religiously. A lot of people talked in this campaign, there was just a whole lot of talk. People have used social media to say things that probably should not be said. But people judge you based upon your deeds.”

On the Democratic side, he faced challenges from Michael Addison and Gregg Marcel Dixon.

As of just before 9 p.m., returns showed Clyburn with 90% of the vote, with Addison’s 6% and Dixon’s 4%.

Clyburn will face Duke Buckner in the general election. Just before 10 p.m., Buckner was declared the winner of the Republican primary with 75% of the vote, defeating Sonia Morris.

Array of candidates fights for chance to lead state schools

Nine candidates are running to be South Carolina’s next state school superintendent to fill the seat being vacated by Molly Spearman who decided against running for re-election.

Six Republican candidates appear on the ballot: Travis Bedson, Bryan Chapman, Kizzi Gibson, Lynda Leventis-Wells, Kathy Maness and Ellen Weaver. The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary, in which Gary Burgess, Lisa Ellis and Jerry Govan appear on that ballot.

As of 10 p.m., Ellis led the Democratic primary with 48% of the vote, compared with Burgess’s 32% and Govan’s 20%. On the Republican side, Maness, the candidate Spearman endorsed, led with 32% of the vote. Weaver followed with 22% of the vote.

3 questions awaited GOP voters

Republican voters across the state faced three “advisory questions” on their ballots as well:

  • Should people have the right to register with the political party of their choice when they register to vote?
  • Should candidates for local school boards be able to run as a candidate of the political party of their choice, just like candidates for other elected offices?
  • In a situation where there is more than one person responsible for damages in a lawsuit, do you support changing South Carolina law so that each person should pay damages based on that person’s actual share of fault?

The State Election Commission says primary advisory questions are developed and certified to be placed on ballots by the political parties and have no binding effect.

More than 100K in SC voted early

The South Carolina State Election Commission reported 100,450 voters took advantage of the new option.

Horry County had the highest number of early voters with 11,618, followed by Richland County’s 9,346; Beaufort County’s 7,858; Charleston County’s 6,464 and Berkeley County’s 5,323.

The state’s new election law replaced the old in-person absentee voting with the early voting period. The new option did not require voters to provide an excuse for why they wanted to vote ahead of the actual election day.

The number of South Carolinians casting their ballots in person rose every day of the two-week, statewide early voting period, with the 21,303 people voting on last Friday’s final day more than triple the first day’s total of 6,032.

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