Third-place finisher endorses Patrick in House race

Kate Keep, who lost a bid for the Republican nomination for Hilton Head Island's seat in the state House of Representatives last week, has endorsed Andy Patrick in the June 22 runoff.

Keep, a founder of the local TEA Party, said in an e-mail to supporters Sunday that she supports Patrick because his positions are similar to hers on two issues: government transparency and spending limits.

"Andy has pledged to work to get votes recorded and post his votes on all bills on his website on a weekly basis," Keep wrote. She added that Patrick "has also promised to work to get spending caps in place, with excess funds received as the economy recovers returned to the taxpayers of our state."

Keep said her decision to endorse Patrick came after conversations with him and incumbent Richard Chalk following the June 8 primary.

"I asked them, have you learned from this campaign?" Keep said in an interview Tuesday. "Have you learned that a majority of people who voted in the primary want pro-active representation and want accountability and transparency?"

Patrick, owner of an international security, risk-management and investigative firm, said he was glad to have the endorsement.

"A lot of the issues that are important to her have been a theme of my campaign," he said.

Chalk, vying for his fourth term in the House, said Keep was "welcome to endorse who she wants to endorse."

"The voters of Hilton Head are fully capable of deciding who they want to vote for," he said.

Chalk said he also supported transparency in government and spending caps. But unlike Keep and Patrick, who want surplus revenues returned to taxpayers each year in the form of rebates, Chalk said a more effective use of surplus money is public projects -- replacing the bridges to Hilton Head Island, for example.

"If you have legitimate documented needs, if you spend money to do those projects, then you are giving money back to taxpayers," Chalk said.

Chalk received the largest bloc of the vote in the primary, at 35.1 percent. Patrick took 33.4 percent and Keep took 31.5.

About 19.5 percent of the county's 94,000 voters turned out for the primary, compared to 24 percent statewide, said Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Chalk and Patrick are planning a media campaign for the week leading up to next Tuesday's runoff, with television, print and radio ads.

As of May 20, the latest date for which candidates were required to report campaign contributions, Chalk had collected $52,725.50, compared to Patrick's $12,139.

Since that date, Patrick had taken in an additional $8,167, he said.

Chalk did not have more recent figures available.