The race for sheriff, pitting incumbent Gregory Jenkins against petition candidate Keefe Blatchley, tops the list of contested Jasper County races, which also feature contests for a state Senate seat, two County Council posts and the clerk of court.
Jenkins, a longtime deputy who became sheriff in 2008 through a special election following the death of Sheriff Ben Riley, is seeking re-election after beating Sam Woodward for the Democratic nomination in a June runoff.
Blatchley was among nearly 200 candidates across the state booted from their primaries by an S.C. Supreme Court decision regarding paperwork issues. Unable to participate in the Democratic primary, Blatchley instead collected enough signatures -- at least 5 percent of the county's registered voters -- to get on the ballot as an independent petition candidate.
Blatchley is the owner of Blatchley Brake and Tire and worked as a Ridgeland police officer from 1989 to 1995.
Also appearing on the ballot is the race between S.C. Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Ridgeland, and Republican challenger Leilani Bessinger of Beaufort to represent District 45, which includes Beaufort County and much of Jasper County.
The district has 60,000 residents and takes in St. Helena Island and the Sea Islands, and Sheldon, Dale and Lobeco. It also picks up a portion of southern Beaufort County along New Riverside Drive and Palmetto Bluff Road. Most of Hampton County and parts of Allendale, Colleton and Charleston counties also lie within the district.
Pinckney has spent 16 years in the General Assembly -- four as a state representative and the past 12 in the Senate.
Bessinger, a litigation paralegal, is making her first bid for political office.
Other contested Jasper County races:
County Council -- at-large
County Council -- Hardeeville Township
Clerk of Court
Board of Education, District 4 (nonpartisan)
- Senate District 45 race pits incumbent vs. newcomer in largest district in state, Oct. 22, 2012
- Results: Jasper County runoff election, June 26, 2012
- Runoffs set for Jasper County sheriff, 2 County Council seats, June 13, 2012