BY CHRIS LAVENDER
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal
June 11, 2016
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday for the Republican Party primary election, the outcome of which will decide several races.
In other races, candidates will advance to the general election in November to face Democratic opponents. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Spartanburg County Voter Registration and Elections Director Henry Laye said voter turnout likely will be light, and the lack of a Democratic Party primary could further reduce turnout. Under South Carolina’s open primary rule, registered Democrats can still vote in the Republican primary, Laye said.
He said any runoff elections will be held June 28.
So far, in-person absentee voting has been light. Laye said about 550 residents have filed absentee ballots during the first two weeks of voting.
Races to watch in Spartanburg County include the S.C. Senate District 12 race and races for the S.C. House in Districts 31, 37 and 38, Laye said.
State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, is being challenged by former state Rep. Scott Talley, Greer businessman David McCraw and Duncan Mayor Lisa Scott in his bid for a third term in District 12. The race has received statewide attention due to Bright’s attempt to pass legislation this year banning transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice and his support for keeping the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds.
Former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Barry Wynn said he believes Bright is vulnerable in the primary. Wynn said there’s been a concerted effort by some to prevent Bright’s re-election.
“There’s a number … out there that would like to have someone new in that office,” Wynn said. “I think there is a real good chance they will do that.”
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Conservation Voters of South Carolina have openly opposed Bright’s re-election bid. Conservation Voters endorsed Talley in the race.
Wynn said while in some elections being an incumbent represents a significant competitive advantage, that might not be the case in the District 12 race.
Scott Huffmon, political science professor at Winthrop University, said the issue that continues to dominate most races is how to fix the state’s roads and infrastructure.
Current South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore said he believes the top three considerations for voters will be roads, ethics and the candidates’ temperaments. Moore said incumbents in most races will be difficult to beat. Voter turnout is expected to be between 7,000 and 10,000 voters in District 12, with overall turnout in Spartanburg County likely to be about 12 to 15 percent, Moore said.
Also in the primary, state Sen. Tom Corbin, R-Travelers Rest, is facing attorney John B. White Jr. of Landrum in the S.C. Senate District 5 race. The winner faces no Democratic opposition in November.
In S.C. House District 31, candidates Michael Fowler and Richard Gosnell are seeking the Republican nomination. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Harold Mitchell in November.
Incumbent state Rep. Doug Brannon, R-Landrum, will face political newcomer Josiah Magnuson of Campobello in the state House District 38 race.
Incumbent state Rep. Donna Hicks, R-Boiling Springs, is facing challenger Steven Long of Boiling Springs in state House District 37. The winner will face Democratic candidate Michael Pratt in the November general election.
State Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, is seeking re-election in Senate District 14 against Republican challenger Charles Price of Boiling Springs.
Other races on the ballot include Spartanburg County Council District 3, where incumbent David Britt faces challenger Stephen Mathis; Spartanburg County Council District 4, where incumbent Jane Hall faces challenger Whitney Farr; and Spartanburg County coroner, where incumbent Rusty Clevenger faces challenger Scott Ramsey.