With all the votes apparently counted, incumbent Sheriff P.J. Tanner defeated JoJo Woodward in the race to be Beaufort County's top law enforcement officer.
As of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Tanner had 9,811 votes (55 percent) out of 17,925 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. JoJo Woodward had 8,114 votes (45 percent).
"We plan to continue the success of the sheriff's office, and we start first thing tomorrow morning," Tanner said late Tuesday.
Tanner said he is appreciative of those who have supported him in recent months.
"They worked day in and day out," Tanner said. "I want to thank everyone that participated in the election process. and those who cast votes for me or against me."
The democratic process is one to respect, Tanner said.
Woodward had not responded to requests for comment by 10:53 p.m.
The sheriff's race drew the most attention from primary voters Tuesday, said director Marie Smalls of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
Voter turnout was about 22 percent. The last non-presidential primary election in Beaufort County was in 2014 and saw a 13 percent turnout.
The winner Tuesday will still need to run in November to secure the seat, but there are no Democratic candidates in the primary. It is possible someone could run then as a write-in.
Tanner has been sheriff since 1998. The last time he faced a challenger was in 2002.
Throughout his campaign, Woodward said Tanner has been a "reactive sheriff." He also criticized Tanner's response to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, while Tanner has promoted his role during the storm as something he is proud of. Tanner said his department was one of multiple local and state agencies that worked together on executing a plan during the storm.
Woodward said he wants more community policing, a tighter budget, more emphasis on school safety and better traffic enforcement.
Tanner said he improved a hiring structure that made the department more competitive. He also said he kept the county's property and violent crime rates low. A forensic laboratory and citizens police academy were put in place as well under his watch, he said.
From 1995 to 1998, Tanner worked for the S.C. Department of Public Safety and as a S.C. Bureau of Protective Services Investigator for the executive, judicial and administrative branches of the state government.
Prior to his state work, Tanner, 58, worked at the sheriff's office in many different roles including patrol supervisor, boat patrol officer, law enforcement instructor, court liaison officer, criminal investigator, internal affairs officer, SWAT team leader, drug task force commander and southern division commander.
Woodward formerly was Tanner's captain of the sheriff's office southern division. He resigned after announcing his plans to run against Tanner.
He started at the Hilton Head island Fire Department in 1984 and started in law enforcement in 1986 with the sheriff's office.
In 1991, Woodward, 55, left to work for the Hardeeville Police Department as a patrol/drug officer. He returned to the sheriff's office in 1992 to work in investigations and drug enforcement. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant and later to captain.