Over 200 candidates knocked out of the running before the first vote was cast, names appearing on the ballot that could not be chosen and voters confused by district changes and overwhelmed by a constant barrage of “who’s the latest to be kicked off the ballot” does not bode well for a successful day of voting. But South Carolinians still came out to vote yesterday, far fewer than we would have liked but they did come out.
So what happened?
One long serving state senator lost his job. Sen. David Thomas (R-FI) was defeated, but who will be the next Senator from District 7 is still in question, as Joe Swann and Ross Turner both garnered 27% of the vote forcing a run-off to be held in two weeks. Sen. Thomas’s loss can be chalked up to a few things. His chance for re-election was not helped by his prominent feature in a recent USA article showcasing elected officials taking advantage of sweet pension deals that allowed them to collect their pensions while still being in office. His pension was a higher amount, significantly than his standard pay for being a state senator, so it was a sweet deal. He also was one of the only incumbents yesterday that faced more than one opponent. Most incumbents, as a result of the ballot controversy, faced one or even no opponent, Sen. Thomas face 4.
Turnout took a turn in the wrong direction. Traditionally, the turnout in primaries is low, around 25%, but with the confusion created by removing candidates from the ballot, not once, not twice but three different times, voters were disheartened. In the precinct where I was a clerk, the turnout was around 15%, but it was worse in other places. Don’t forget that three counties had no primary for one or both of the parties due to the candidate removals. The only good that I am hoping for out of all this, is maybe voters will demand that the Legislature fix the problem that caused the removal and more. We should be demanding reform in the Primary system.
Two of our U.S. Congressmen will be facing fresh faces in November as Brian Doyle and Deb Morrow win the Democratic nod for U.S. House of Representative. Mr. Doyle and Ms. Morrow represent the move away from career politicians to average Americans running for office. Let’s see if people put their money where their mouth is come November. We keep hearing that Americans are tired of career politicians, so here in the Upstate, we have two chances to make the switch.
With the choice of State Rep. Karl Allen over Greenville Councilwoman Lillian Brock Flemming, the voters in Senate District 7, in my opinion, missed an opportunity to send a great advocate and civic leader to Columbia and one who could bring a woman’s perspective to the halls of the State House. I am disappointed, but I can console myself that Greenville gets to keep this amazing woman who has given the majority of her adult life to helping out her fellow man and woman here in our great city!
Overall, this primary sent incumbents back to work, highlighted the apathy that is still too rampant in our fellow citizens in regards to controlling their own lives through good representation in government and the need for reform. I trust that we will wake up and make the changes necessary.