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McMaster Wins GOP Runoff For SC Lieutenant Governor

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Voting booths (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

Voting booths (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former Attorney General Henry McMaster is the Republican nominee to be South Carolina’s lieutenant governor.

Early returns Tuesday show McMaster trouncing Mike Campbell by a two-to-one margin.

The 67-year-old Columbia resident ran on his experience, saying he has the knowledge to get things done. McMaster was a U.S. attorney during President Ronald Reagan’s first term and state GOP chairman from 1993 to 2002 before being elected to two terms as the state’s attorney general.

McMaster had a strong lead in the four-way GOP primary two weeks ago, taking 44 percent of the vote. But he needed more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff.

Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, actually finished third in that contest. But the 45-year-old small businessman advanced to the runoff when second-place finisher Pat McKinney, who received about 1,250 more votes, bowed out ahead of the expected recount.

It was Campbell’s second loss for the state’s No. 2 spot in a runoff. He lost against then-Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in 2006 after placing first in the three-way primary.

McMaster will face 29-year-old Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers in November.

Voters also returned to the polls Tuesday to decide both parties’ nominees for state superintendent of education.

On the Republican side, Molly Spearman faces Sally Atwater for education superintendent. Atwater is the widow of legendary GOP strategist Lee Atwater, who engineered wins for Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, and later was national GOP chairman.

Democrats Sheila Gallagher and Tom Thompson are competing to be their party’s nominee for superintendent.

Just 16 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots during the June 10 primary, when contests included five statewide races and both U.S. Senate seats. Turnout Tuesday was described as light or low.

In 2010, with a governor’s race on the ballot, turnout fell from 24 percent to 15 percent from the primary to the runoff.

State Elections Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said no real problems had been reported.

In Mount Pleasant, 28-year-old attorney Joseph Kaiser voted for Atwater.

“She’s been in education and she has also been in D.C. and in education policy nationwide,” he said. “She’s a smart lady.”

Kaiser said Lee Atwater, who died in 1991, wasn’t a consideration in his vote.

“He was a great guy for the party. He was a great strategist. But she’s her own person. She has her own ideas,” he said.

Deloris Minnis, a 57-year-old hospital payroll coordinator, voted for McMaster.

“I like the things he has done in the past, and I usually just go with experience,” she said.

McMaster appeared in several television ads with his white bulldog Boots, which may not be an asset depending on the college loyalties of voters.

“I’m a Clemson fan, and I don’t care much for bulldogs because to me that’s the University of Georgia,” Kaiser said with a laugh, who said he nonetheless voted for McMaster, also because of his experience.

Democrats in Chesterfield, Darlington and Marlboro counties also chose who they want to replace state Rep. Elizabeth Munnerlyn, D-Bennettsville, who is not seeking a third term. Voters in 11 of the state’s 46 counties also had runoff choices in local races.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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