[image-1] Gov. Henry McMaster will face Democratic state Rep. James Smith in the Nov. 6 general election after defeating Republican challenger John Warren in Tuesday’s primary runoff.
McMaster was forced into the runoff when he failed to get 50 percent of the vote in the five-way June 12 Republican primary despite vocal support from President Donald Trump. McMaster earned 42.32 percent of the initial primary vote, with Warren trailing a distant second at 27.82 percent.
Last night’s race ultimately delivered for the incumbent governor as he runs for his first elected term leading South Carolina.
McMaster, who rose to the governorship last year after Nikki Haley was called up to the United Nations by Trump, bested Warren with 53.63 percent of the vote, amounting to a total of 24,899 more votes.
Outside of the Upstate which Warren calls home, Charleston was the only county that didn’t fall McMaster’s way, with Warren earning just over half of the area’s 22,182 votes.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both held rallies in support of McMaster in South Carolina in final days before the election. At his rally, Trump misstated the phrase attributed to a spokesperson for Mark Sanford when excusing the then-governor’s sudden 2009 disappearance, claiming that Sanford was supposedly hiking the “Tallahassee Trail.”
Sanford, who now represents South Carolina’s 1st District in Congress, was defeated by Katie Arrington, who was also supported by the president, on June 12.
A staffer for governor’s campaign posted on Twitter that the president called to congratulate McMaster Tuesday night.
Attorney General Alan Wilson also won his runoff against challenger state Rep. Todd Atwater with close to 65 percent of the vote.
Both Wilson and McMaster have been criticized for cozy relationships with political consultant Richard Quinn, a main figure in the years-long Statehouse corruption investigation. McMaster’s challengers attempted to tie him to the corruption probe during Republican primary debates. Mt. Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton, a vocal McMaster critic who backed Warren in the runoff, said that the governor’s name was “synonymous with Statehouse corruption” during a primary debate held in Charleston.
[content-1] Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant also piled on, pointing out how McMaster invited Quinn to the governor’s mansion, and Warren highlighted the consultant’s long working history with the current governor.
For his part, Wilson was criticized for attempting to fire the special prosecutor in the corruption probe and turning to Quinn in the midst the investigation, according to The Post & Courier.
Wilson will face Democratic nominee and Charleston School of Law professor Constance Anastopoulo in November.
In a statement released after McMaster’s win, Smith briefly congratulated McMaster before swiftly pivoting to look at his new opponents’ politics.
“We know that this election is about the people of South Carolina and their future and while Henry McMaster would suggest that all is well, he is not willing to tell the truth,” Smith said. “As your Governor and Lt. Governor, Representative Mandy Powers Norrell and I will transform a culture of corruption in Columbia to a culture of service.”