Tuesday’s statewide primaries finished with mostly expected results, save for one bombshell that some are saying represents the power of Trump’s influence on the Republican electorate.
As of 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, slightly over 89 percent of counties had completely reported their election results.
Below are some of the key results:
State Rep. James Smith of Richland County coasted to victory in the Democratic primary for governor against his two outsider challengers, Florence attorney Marguerite Willis and Charleston businessman Phil Noble. Smith will face the winner of the June 26 Republican run-off in November.
Gov. Henry McMaster‘s incumbent status, with a hearty endorsement from President Trump and a statewide media campaign, earned him the most votes, but not enough to avoid a run-off. He will face Greenville businessman John Warren on June 26. Mt. Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton scored about 22 percent of the vote, coming in third place despite the fact that she shot a snake on TV and touted her devotion to Trump as well. (She met with him as he courted potential cabinet members after the 2016 election.) Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill came in third and fourth, respectively.
U.S. House of Representatives District 1
First-term state Rep. Katie Arrington from Dorchester County upset U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in the Republican primary. This is the first time Sanford, the state’s former governor who also did a stint in Congress in the 1990s, has lost an election in his 24-year political career. Less than three hours before the polls closed on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted his endorsement for Arrington, though its effect will never be known.
Charleston lawyer Joe Cunningham decidedly won his party’s primary. He will face Republican Katie Arrington in November.
Incumbent Attorney General Alan Wilson will face Republican state Rep. Todd Atwater of Lexington in the June 26 runoff. Wilson has been plagued by criticism for his involvement in the years-long S.C. House corruption probe. After stepping aside and naming David Pascoe as special prosecutor for the case, Wilson tried to fire Pascoe in 2016, claiming that he overstepped his bounds, according to The State.
Medical Marijuana (Dem)
In Democratic primary ballots across the sate, voters were asked the following question:
“Do you support passing a state law allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients?”
More than 182,000 voters, over 81 percent of those who voted, answered yes. (The map on the S.C. Election Commission website was fully green, btw.) A medical marijuana bill was approved by committees in the S.C. House and Senate this year, but did not progress to a full vote in either chambers before the end of the legislative session.
These sorts of questions are asked by parties to gauge interest in certain topics. They do not represent a change in state law.
Medicaid Expansion (Dem)
S.C. Democrats were also asked the following question:
Do you support passing a state law requiring the governor of South Carolina to accept all federal revenues offered to support Medicaid and Medicaid expansion efforts in the state?
This answer was decidedly more positive, with more than 92 percent of voters (or over 206,000 people) voting yes.
Voter Registration by Party (Rep)
Republican primary voters weighed whether to allow citizens to register with a party when registering to vote.
Do you believe that voters should have the option to choose to affiliate with a political party when they register to vote or change their voter registration in South Carolina?
Right now, S.C. voters do not align themselves with a political party when they register to vote, which means that voters can choose to vote in the party primary of their choice. This has led to some prominent conservatives like Lt. Gov. Bryant to use party registration as a safeguard for establishment conservative ideology, saying that it would help “dismantle the RINO-crat majority that is guarding the gate for liberalism.” Some speculate that the question on the ballot on Tuesday could open discussion about closing primaries to only a party’s registered voters.
Just over 82 percent of Republican voters said they would support the option to affiliate with a party in voter registration.