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2012 elections preview: South Carolina voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries

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June 11, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

The fast-moving primary season of May and June continues tomorrow with elections in South Carolina.

Here's what to watch for in South Carolina, where polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.[1]

Contested Primaries in South Carolina -- June 12, 2012
U.S. House
(7 seats)
State Legislature
(170 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 3 (42.86%) 21 (12.35%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 2 (28.57%) 44 (25.88%)


U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in South Carolina, 2012

South Carolina has a total of 7 seats on the ballot in 2012. A total of 28 candidates have filed to run, made up of 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats. All six incumbents - 5 Republicans and 1 Democrat - are running for re-election. Only one of the incumbents - Republican Rep. Joe Wilson - is being challenged in the primary.

South Carolina added a seventh congressional district after the 2010 census. In the new 7th District, four Democrats and nine Republican candidates are running to be the newest addition to South Carolina's congressional delegation. In the Republican primary, former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer started the race as the clear frontrunner because of name recognition and his fundraising ability. The race continued to tighten however, and a poll in mid-May had him essentially tied with attorney and lead rival Tom Rice. The two have traded barbs throughout the race. Rice, for example, accused Bauer of moving to Horry County after his failed run for governor to take advantage of the new district and run for Congress.[2] Republicans Chad Prosser and Jay Jordan are also both well-known throughout the district, though they have both for the most part, trailed in the race behind Bauer and Rice. Jordan did take first place at a recent forum, however, garnering 49 percent of the vote in a straw poll.[3]

The Democratic field saw a major shake-up in mid-May, when frontrunner and state Rep. Ted Vick withdrew from the race after being arrested and charged with a DUI and unlawful carrying of a gun.[4]. Attorney Preston Brittain was subsequently thrust into frontrunner status. In the days leading into the primary, Brittain received prominent endorsements, including from Rep. James E. Clyburn.[5] The other two Democrats in the race are Gloria Bromell Tinubu and Harry Pavilack.

Members of the U.S. House from South Carolina -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 1 1
     Republican Party 5 6
Total 6 7

State legislature

South Carolina State Senate elections, 2012 and South Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2012

There are 170 total legislative seats with elections in 2012 -- 46 Senate seats and 124 House seats.

There are 21 (12.4%) contested Democratic primaries, 44 (25.8%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 65 races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 65 major party primaries represents 19% of possible primaries tomorrow. This figure is lower than the current national contested average of 22.8% for states that have had filing deadlines.


In the Senate, there are a total of 15 incumbents facing a primary challenge.

Republican Party District 2: Incumbent Larry Martin is running against Rex Rice.
Republican Party District 3: Incumbent Kevin Bryant faces Don C. Bowen, Jr..
Republican Party District 4: Incumbent William O'Dell is challenged by Riley Harvell.
Republican Party District 6: Incumbent Michael Fair faces Chris Sullivan.
Republican Party District 8: Incumbent David Thomas is challenged by Jim Lee, Chad Groover, Ross Turner, and Joseph Swann.
Republican Party District 12: Incumbent Lee Bright is running against John Hawkins.
Democratic Party District 17: Incumbent Creighton Coleman is running against Al BellaVance.
Republican Party District 18: Incumbent Ronnie Cromer is running against Rich Bolen, Alan Hunter, and Kara Gormley Meador.
Republican Party District 23: Incumbent Jake Knotts is running against Katrina Shealy.
Republican Party District 25: Incumbent Shane Massey is running against John W. Pettigrew, Jr..
Democratic Party District 30: Incumbent Kent Williams is running against Patrick T. Richardson.
Democratic Party District 32: Incumbent John Yancey McGill is running against Cezar McKnight.
Republican Party District 34: Incumbent Raymond Cleary is running against Dick Withington, 2012 Senate.
Republican Party District 38: Incumbent Mike Rose is running against Sean Bennett.
Democratic Party District 42: Incumbent Robert Ford is running against Frederick A. Fielding and Master P. Bines.


In the House, there are a total of 20 incumbents facing a primary challenge - 8 Democrats and 12 Republicans. A few of the races are highlighted below.

Republican Party District 3: Republican incumbent B.R. Skelton is challenged by Ed J. Harris.
Democratic Party District 79: Democratic incumbent Mia Butler Garrick is opposed by Vannie Williams, Jr..
Republican Party District 104: Incumbent Tracy R. Edge (R) is running against Greg Duckworth and Gary Stephens.
Republican Party District 110: Incumbent Chip Limehouse (R) is challenged by Peter vonLehe Ruegner.

South Carolina State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 19 18
     Republican Party 27 28
Total 46 46

South Carolina House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 46 46
     Republican Party 76 76
Total 124 124