SC voters return to polls for runoff contests

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Monday, June 23, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Voters on Tuesday will pick their parties' choice to be South Carolina's education superintendent, while Republicans will also pick their lieutenant governor nominee.

Turnout for the primary runoffs is expected to be light. Just 16 percent of the state's registered voters cast ballots in the June 10 primary, when contests included five statewide races and both U.S. Senate seats.

Two weeks later, the Republican ballot features two statewide races: Henry McMaster versus Mike Campbell for lieutenant governor, and Molly Spearman versus Sally Atwater for superintendent. The Democratic ballot pits Sheila Gallagher against Tom Thompson for superintendent.

Democrats in Chesterfield, Darlington and Marlboro counties will also choose who they want to replace state Rep. Elizabeth Munnerlyn, D-Bennettsville, who is not seeking a third term. Voters in 11 of the state's 46 counties will also have runoff choices in local races.

The polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Registered voters who skipped the primary can still cast ballots in the runoff.

What's not allowed is party switching between the two contests. People who voted June 10 must vote in the same party's runoff. Voters don't register by party in South Carolina. But those who voted on the GOP ballot for the primary, for example, can't vote in the Democratic runoff, and vice-versa.

A runoff is required when no candidate surpasses 50 percent of the vote.

McMaster, 67, took 44 percent of the votes in the four-way GOP primary for the state's No. 2 post. Campbell, 45, received 24 percent.

The votes for second and third place were so close, an automatic recount was expected. Pat McKinney, a retired Kiawah Island developer in his first run for office, received about 1,250 more votes than Campbell, but he decided to bow out, putting Campbell in the runoff.

The winner of the runoff will face Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers in November. Sellers, 29, is not seeking a fifth term representing Bamberg County and portions of Barnwell and Colleton counties.

This year is the last time voters will choose the lieutenant governor. Starting in 2018, gubernatorial nominees will pick their running mates.

In the GOP superintendent's race, Spearman finished first among eight candidates, but only 1,408 votes ahead of Atwater. Both received roughly 22 percent of the vote.

On the Democratic side for superintendent, Sheila Gallagher took 36 percent of the vote in the four-way primary, while Thompson received 26 percent.

(Copyright 2014. The Associated Press.)

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