BEAUFORT — A hard-fought — and expensive — road to Columbia for Tom Davis ended Tuesday night with the Beaufort attorney easily winning the District 46 seat in the state Senate amid complaints from Lady’s Island and Beaufort residents that they received the wrong ballot.
Davis defeated Bluffton Democrat Kent Fletcher by about 33 percent of the popular vote, according to unofficial returns. The Beaufort County Board of Elections will certify the results of the election Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to getting into the Senate and accomplishing some things for our district,” Davis said during a victory party at Beaufort County Republican Headquarters on Boundary Street.
Fletcher, a former Marine lieutenant and political newcomer, vowed to continue to serve the community.
“The people of Beaufort County have spoken, and we’ve got a lot of work to do over the next four years,” Fletcher said. “I’ll continue to serve my community in whatever way is the best fit. I’m not going anywhere. I’m a neighbor in this community, I’m a resident in this community, so I’ve got a vested interest.”
Davis, who won the GOP nomination in a contentious June primary with incumbent Catherine Ceips, said Fletcher will be a viable candidate for years to come.
“The race against Catherine was what it was, but for the past three or four months, Kent and I have debated each and every issue, and it’s been great,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about Kent Fletcher. That’s a man with a bright future.”
Though the night ended in a decisive victory for Davis, early ballot issues at area precincts had both candidates worried.
Instead of last-minute campaigning Tuesday, Davis and Fletcher were busy fielding complaints from supporters who claimed neither candidate was on their ballot.
“It’s a disaster, just a disaster,” Davis said Tuesday morning. “You spend eight months and nearly a half-million dollars trying to get people to vote for you, and the last thing you worry about is whether people will actually be able to do it.”
About 400 voters at the Lady’s Island voting precinct 2B at the Coosaw Point community center were given incorrect ballots that allowed them to vote in the District 45 race, in which Clementa Pinckney ran unopposed, said Agnes Garvin, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections.
Representatives of both candidates also reported incorrect ballots given to voters at the Charles “Lind” Brown Activity Center, the home of all three Beaufort voting precincts. Garvin said shortly before polls closed Tuesday that she knew of only two incidents of Activity Center voters receiving incorrect ballots.
Senate District 46 encompasses Beaufort, Port Royal, Lady’s Island, parts of Burton, parts of St. Helena Island, Dataw Island, Hunting Island, Harbor Island, Fripp Island and all of southern Beaufort County.