The Daily Journal: Sandifer sweeps Oconee; Adams reclaims office

By Andrew Moore (Contact / Staff Bio)

“By and large the people of Oconee County voted for the values that we hold dear in this state, not the values of a multi-millionaire in New York City.”

— State Rep. Bill Sandifer

WALHALLA — Ed Rumsey’s District 2 House campaign, which picked up steam from Gov. Mark Sanford’s May endorsement, was derailed Tuesday in an overwhelming defeat by incumbent Rep. Bill Sandifer.

Rumsey garnered 1,283 votes, while Sandifer reeled in 3,269 votes for a winning margin of roughly 72 percent.

“I think tonight says that the people of Oconee County and this district will not allow an election to be bought, no matter how much money someone spends,” Sandifer said after his win. “The people in this district are independent-minded and not unduly influenced by a person who does not live here.”

Adams outpaces Drawdy

Sandifer was not the only incumbent who came under heavy campaign fire but who managed to win re-election Tuesday night. Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams handily defeated challenger Sarah Drawdy.

Adams won her home county of Oconee by a margin of 5,584 to 2,628 but sealed the deal by also winning in Anderson County, where, with nearly all precincts reporting, she led Drawdy 11,596 to 10,181.

As was the case in the solicitor race, where Drawdy was criticized for trying to capitalize on issues related to immigration, Rumsey took criticism in Oconee for receiving thousands of dollars from purported front groups for New York City political activist Howard Rich. The often contentious debate between the two centered around the influence of outside interests in Rumsey’s campaign, versus the criticisms of Sandifer’s so-called pork barrel spending habits in the legislature.

Sandifer said Tuesday nights’ results proved his votes in the House were accurate representations of his constituency.

“I think people in general believe that what I’ve been doing is a reflection of what they want,” Sandifer said. “I will not be bought. I will not be unduly influenced. I will continue to vote what I believe to be appropriate for the people of my district.”

Sandifer’s win was sweeping. He carried every precinct and even defeated Rumsey in his home precinct of Stamp Creek by nearly a two-to-one margin.

“I am so very appreciative of the support I have received and so humbled by what the people have done to help me,” Sandifer said. “I think it is summed up by the statement made by a little lady who came to the precinct in Seneca today. She said to me, ‘Bill, thank you for taking on the abuse you’ve taken on our behalf.’”

Sandifer said his margin of victory Tuesday was the highest he’d ever had in a contest, including elections against Democrats.

“I think that is rather significant,” Sandifer said. “That is a very strong message to those who are trying to buy elections in Oconee County.”

Skelton trumps Whitehurst

The Sandifer-Rumsey raced was duplicated in Pickens County, where Troy Whitehurst, who also received out-of-state backing, challenged incumbent State Rep. B. R. Skelton in the Republican primary. The governor did not endorse Whitehurst, who fell short 1,524 to 1,280.

“I believe the good people of Pickens County were able to see what was happening, and I think they decided not to yield to special interest groups,” Skelton said. “I respect my opponent’s work ethic but do not respect the ethics used by outside groups — particularly the lack of truth in what they were saying.”

Skelton will face Democrat Jason Gale in the November general election.

While the Skelton-Whitehurst race was tight all the way, the District 2 Senate contest between incumbent Larry Martin and challenger Mac Martin was never close. Larry Martin, who faces no opposition in November, easily won by receiving 9,859 votes to Mac Martin’s 2,442.

“It was a little more than I expected, but I’ll take it,” Larry Martin said following the final tally.

The longtime legislator, who has served in Columbia since winning a House seat in the 1970s, said he was pleased at the support he received throughout Pickens County.

“When I first ran for the House, I never expected to be doing this 30 years later,” he said. “But I’m so appreciative of the support people have given me, and I’m hopeful I can continue to justify their confidence in me.”

Though disappointed in the outcome, Mac Martin said he is glad voters had a choice.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” Mac Martin said. “We had a good, clean, competitive race, and the choice was there for people to make. If I didn’t participate, it would have been 100 percent for Larry.”

Graham storms to victory

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was running away from his Republican primary challenger Buddy Witherspoon as the final ballots were being counted late Tuesday. Graham had double the votes statewide, an did even better in the Upstate, where he carried Oconee 6,300 to 1,947 and Pickens County 9,343 to 4,456.

The Democrat U.S. Senate race between Robert Conley and Michael Cone was too close to call as of press time when Conley led his opponent 62,596 to 62,191 with 36 of 45 counties reporting. In Pickens and Oconee, Conley combined for 549 votes, to 505 for Cone.

Greg Oliver and Brett McLaughlin contributed reporting to this story.


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