Beaufort County turnout low in SC 1st Congressional District primary

gsmith@islandpacket.comMarch 19, 2013 

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Voting clerk Rufus Siler and poll worker Ethel Johnson take Beaufort's Betty and Stan Waskiewicz, left, information during voting Tuesday morning at the Charles Lind Brown Activity Center in Beaufort.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo

With almost all votes counted (98.7 percent), former Governor Mark Sanford will have a spot in the runoff election, and Elizabeth Colbert Busch will be the Democratic challenger.

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Voting in Beaufort County went smoothly -- but turnout was not as high as the campaigns and election officials had hoped.

Unofficial results late Tuesday show turnout at nearly 16 percent with Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head, winning Beaufort County in the 1st Congressional District race, said Scott Marshall, executive director of Beaufort County's Board of Elections and Registration.

Patrick, the only Hilton Head resident in the race, took nearly 3,700 votes or about a third of ballots cast, Marshall said.

"I am truly honored and humbled by the outpouring of support our campaign received," Patrick said. "Despite being vastly outspent, we were able to mobilize a truly grassroots campaign to have our message of taking Lowcountry values to Congress heard loud and clear."

Trailing Patrick was former Gov. Mark Sanford with 29 percent support. Sanford will be in a runoff for the GOP nomination in two weeks.

A distant third was former state Sen. John Kuhn. A distant fourth was former Charleston County member Curtis Bostic, who will go head-to-head with Sanford April 2.

The 16 percent turnout was mirrored across the five-county district, said Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the S.C. State Election Commission.

Neither Beaufort County or the state officials heard of problems related to the new photo ID law, which requires voters to bring a S.C. driver's license or other type of photo ID to the polls to cast a vote. Those who forget to bring it were allowed to cast provisional ballots.

Polling sites in Sun City Hilton Head posted some of the largest voter turnout numbers in Beaufort County.

Voters there were split among several of the 18 Republicans and Democrats vying for the congressional seat vacated by Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Bill and Mary Ann Cook of Sun City voted for former Gov. Mark Sanford, who is on the ballot for the first time since his 2009 admission to an extramarital affair.

"We think he has the most experience," Bill Cook said, referring to Sanford's three terms in Congress and two terms as governor.

"He's been there, done that. Unfortunately, he's done other things, too," added Mary Ann Cook, referring to the affair that ended Sanford's marriage.

Ultimately, the Cooks decided Sanford's record of looking out for the taxpayers and working to cut spending -- points Sanford has hammered during the campaign -- mattered more than his personal failings.

"He was honest about it," Bill Cook said of Sanford's affair. "He went on (TV) programs and apologized. That's all he can do."

But Jacquie Schneider, another Sun City voter, disagreed.

"Any guy who would cheat on his wife has had it," said Schneider, who voted for Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, as did her husband, Clint Schneider.

Another voter, Tom Cronin of Bluffton, cast a ballot for Patrick.

"I'm going to vote for him to break up the monotony of the big guys," Cronin said, referring to several top-tier candidates who had infused their campaigns with six-digit contributions from their own bank accounts. "I've heard he's a good guy."

Related content

  1. In Beaufort County and elsewhere, turnout will decide South Carolina congressional winners, March 18, 2013
  2. Will winner of 1st Congressional District race give Beaufort County enough attention?, March 16, 2013
  3. Mark Sanford leads polls for SC 1st Congressional District primary campaign, March 14, 2013

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