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2012 elections review: Amid candidate access chaos, South Carolina holds congressional, legislative primaries

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June 13, 2012

By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State Legislative teams

With primary season in full swing across the country, South Carolina voters went to the polls yesterday to advance candidates to the general election.

Here's what happened in congressional and legislative primaries.


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%)
See also: United States House of Representatives elections in South Carolina, 2012

South Carolina saw congressional primary races in seven different districts. Of the 14 possible primaries, just five were contested. Nationally, 60.56% of the congressional primaries so far have been contested, making South Carolina's 35.7% of contesed primaries well below the national average. Only one of the six incumbents - Republican Rep. Joe Wilson - was challenged in the primary, though he won easily. In the 3rd District Democratic primary, broadcaster Brian Doyle beat businessman Cason Gaither. In the 4th District, Deb Morrow won over Democratic primary challenger Jimmy Tobias.[1]

The district to watch was the newly-created 7th District. Four Democrats and 9 Republicans competed in the primary. Former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Tom Rice won the district and will face each other in a runoff election. Jay Jordan came in third place with 22% of the vote. On the Democratic side, Gloria Bromell Tinubu beat local attorney Preston Brittain, garnering 52% of the vote to Brittain's 39%.[1]

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

There were 10 (6%) contested Democratic primaries, 26 (15%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there were 36 races with at least to candidates on the ballot. The 36 major party primaries represented 11% of possible primaries. This figure is less than half of the current national contested average of 24.18% for states that have had filing deadlines.

A total of 6 incumbents were defeated.

Impact of candidate disqualifications

At least part of the exceptionally low number of contested primaries (11%) can be attributed to the filing confusion surrounding each candidate's "statement of economic interest" form. On May 2, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that any candidate who had not filed the necessary statement of economic interest would be ineligible to run, and subsequently ordered the political parties to remove candidates from the primary ballots if they had not properly filed the paperwork. Many incumbents found themselves unopposed, and some districts were left vacant altogether. According to state law, parties were unable to reopen filing for the seats.[2]

After several failed lawsuits from parties and challengers attempting to halt the primary or get some candidates back on the ballot, it ultimately went forward on June 12 as planned with well over 200 candidates disqualified statewide. Several candidates were removed from the ballot as late as June 7, just 5 days before the primary.[3][4]

In Anderson county, 15 of 23 challengers were deemed ineligible for the primary. Oconee County saw 11 of 13 challengers declared ineligible, which prompted local Republican party leaders to cancel the primary there.[5]


In the Senate, 2 incumbents were defeated.

Republican Party District 8: Incumbent David Thomas was defeated by Ross Turner and Joseph Swann, who will go on to face each other in a runoff election.
Republican Party District 38: Incumbent Mike Rose was defeated by Sean Bennett.


In the House, there were a total of 4 were incumbents defeated.

Republican Party District 3: Republican incumbent B.R. Skelton was defeated by Ed J. Harris.
Republican Party District 37: Republican incumbent Steve Parker lost his seat to Donna Wood.
Democratic Party District 62: Democrats Denny Neilson and Robert Williams faced off, with Williams coming out the victor.
Democratic Party District 122: Democrat Curtis Brantley was defeated by Bill Bowers.

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

See also

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