Political pundits have said for years that incumbency offers definite advantages when running for re-election. In Sumter County on Tuesday, local Democrat incumbents needed every single advantage they could possibly find, as several of them were pushed to the brink of defeat, and at least one still has work to do.
The focus for Sumter County voters Tuesday was primarily on local Democrats since Republicans only had one contested primary, and that race was in just a portion of the county. In that contest, Mick Mulvaney easily dispatched a token challenger in his bid for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Democratic Party, however, had far more dramatic contests.
One yet to be decided for Democrats is the Sumter County Coroner’s race, where incumbent Harvin Bullock garnered slightly less than 38 percent of the vote, and will face a runoff challenger in two weeks. That challenger will most likely be Robbie Baker, however this itself is not certain. With one precinct yet to report – the notoriously lightly balloted Shaw precinct – Baker led fellow candidate Isaac Johnson by only 16 votes.
In the other countywide race, incumbent Jamie Campbell was able to overcome an early deficit due to strong absentee voting for his opponent, Kevin Johnson, to ultimately win his party’s nomination with slightly more than 55 percent of the vote. While a relatively close election, this would turn out to be the widest margin any incumbent running for the Democratic Party’s nomination would win by Tuesday night.
In Sumter County Council District 5, incumbent and current County Chairwoman Vivian Fleming-McGhaney received slightly more than 52 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff herself by only 57 votes. In doing so, Fleming-McGhaney defeated Frank Williams Jr., himself a former county chairman. Williams received slightly less than 40 percent of the vote in the three-person race.
In State House District 64, which represents portions of Clarendon and Sumter Counties, incumbent Bobby Ridgeway also narrowly avoided having to enter a runoff by garnering 52 percent of the vote. His closest rival, Alexander Herc Conyers, received 39 percent of the vote.
In addition to the coroner’s race, there will be two other runoffs for voters in some portions of Sumter County. In the State House District 50 race, where six Democrats were looking to replace retiring representative Grady Brown, Will Wheeler and Tom Drayton were the top two candidates and will go head-to-head in the runoff, which in the Sumter County Council District 1 race, Chris Sumpter and Caleb Mack Kershaw Jr. will face-off in two weeks, as well.
The final numbers from yesterday’s local races can be seen here.
The upcoming runoffs will be held on June 28, with polls once again open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone who either voted in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday or did not vote at all will be eligible to participate. Those voters who participated in the Republican primary on Tuesday will not be allowed to cast ballots in these races.