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News analysis | More than one of every three elections for the S.C. House of Representatives is already decided.  

That’s because 45 candidates, most of whom are incumbents, will face no challenger in the June primaries or November general election. Example: The longtime Republican seat currently held by House Speaker Jay Lucas, who is not running for reelection, has only one candidate – Republican Cody T. Mitchell of Hartsville. He also is Lucas’s law partner.

The party that will win is already decided in another 16 races across the state because the Democrats or Republicans running in the June 14 primary face no general election challenger.

All totaled, that means 71 seats of the 124 in the House (57 percent) are already fixed.  Republicans only have to win nine of the remaining 53 races to keep their majority, which is expected.

Primaries feature 51 competitive races

Throughout the state, there are 51 House races featuring more than one candidate from a political party. Thirty-eight House seats have Republican primaries, while 13 seats have Democratic primaries.

Some of the contested primaries are pretty crowded.  In Greenville County, for example, five Democrats are vying for an open seat held currently by  Democratic Rep. Leola Robinson. The winner will face three candidates in November from the Independence, Libertarian and Republican parties. Nearby in District 27, four Republicans are running for the open seat held by GOP Rep. Garry Smith. In Cherokee and Spartanburg counties, five Republicans seek a seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Moss.

A handful of incumbents have intraparty challengers. In Richland County, Rep. Wendy Brawley faces two Democratic challengers.  The winner has to face two candidates, one from the Green Party and the other a Republican. In Dillon County, longtime state Rep. Jackie Hayes faces a Democratic challenger. The winner will face the winner of a GOP primary and an Independence candidate. In Charleston County, five candidates filed for House Seat 112 and incumbent GOP Rep. Joe Bustos faces two Republican challengers. The winner will face the victor of a Democratic primary.

 A newcomer in Lexington County’s House District 85 will be the winner of a November election and while the race is classified as competitive, it’s probably not in reality as four Republicans are vying for an open seat long held by a Republican. The November challenger is Libertarian.  No members of that party serve in the Statehouse.

One race to watch is a three-way Democratic primary in the Pee Dee that pits incumbents Roger Kirby and Cezar McKnight against each other. A third candidate is William Terry Wallace.

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