BEAUFORT -- Tom Davis, Gov. Mark Sanford's former chief of staff, will be the Republican Party's nominee in the November general election for state Senate District 46 after ousting incumbent Sen. Catherine Ceips in Tuesday's primary.
With 87 of 89 precincts counted, Davis won 56.1 percent of the vote to Ceips' 43.9 percent, according to unofficial election results. The results are expected to be certified Thursday.
At his campaign party at the Inn at Town Center, Davis delivered a victory speech with his three daughters and wife at his side.
"If you're a serious individual who recognizes the needs of this county -- roads, schools, quality of life ... If you're serious and you articulate that ... then that is what really matters," he said, "... that's going to overcome a negative message."
Davis paid respect to Ceips in his victory speech. He singled out her dedication to constituent service.
"The dedication, the zeal she puts in, I can learn from that. ... She's been consistent on that," he said.
Ceips, who joined the House in 2003 and moved to the Senate in a special election last year, was not as gracious.
"It appears Mr. Davis has won. I will be calling him later tonight. It appears the out-of-state money won," she said from her Bay Street home. She declined further comment.
Ceips' parting shot appears unfounded since the vast majority of Davis' campaign contributions came from individuals within the Senate district, according to campaign finance disclosure forms filed May 20. Unlike Davis, Ceips' campaign accepted money from several political action committees and many out-of-district and some out-of-state donors, as well as local donors, according to her finance documents filed May 26.
Her parting shot was a continuation of a tone she took in the final days of the campaign.
From the beginning of Davis' candidacy, he said he would challenge Ceips on policy issues, though Ceips characterized his policy attacks as dishonest, "negative, nasty mudslinging."
Daviswill face Bluffton Democrat Kent Fletcher, a Marine and Iraq veteran who introduced Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama when he spoke at Battery Creek High School last year.