Zorn, Hiott, Collins, Clary win

COUNTY — Local Republican and Democratic voters went to the polls on Tuesday to let their voices be heard throughout the state inprimary elections that determined candidates for the November general election.

Three local seats in the State House were up for grabs in the election, with only Republicans vying for seats on the ballot in Pickens County.

Incumbent Davey Hiott faced opposition from challenger Michelle Wiles in the State House District 4 race, while the other two State House races in the county pitted newcomers challenging for seats after Phil Owens (District 5) and B.R. Skelton (District 3) did not seek reelection.

Hiott, a 10-year State House representative, took the victory over Wiles, picking up 2,771 votes to Wiles’ 1,896.

In the District 3 race, Gary E. Clary (1,716 votes) took a hard-fought victory over Ed Harris (1,319 votes). Clary will face opposition in the November general election from Travis McCurry, who has filed as a Libertarian.

Three men competed for the District 5 seat, with Neal Collins garnering the victory with 2,316 votes to Rick Tate’s 1,004 and Harley Staton’s 338.

The only other local seat up for grabs in the primary was probate judge, which was a battle between incumbent Kathy Patterson Zorn and challenger H. Mark Durham. Zorn earned her seat back by picking up 6,295 votes to Durham’s 4,734 .

All other races on the Republican ballot were for statewide offices.

Mike Campbell, Pat McKinney, Henry McMaster and Ray Moore competed for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. McMaster took the win in Pickens County, with 4,636 votes, followed by McKinney with 3,325 votes, Campbell with 2,580 votes and Moore with 1,059 votes.

For state treasurer, incumbent Curtis Loftis (7,302 votes) defeated Brian Adams (3,777) in Pickens County.

Eight candidates competed for the Republican nomination for state superintendent of education. In Pickens County, Sheri Few won with 3,440 votes to Sally Atwater’s 2,258, followed by Molly Mitchell Spearman with 2,108, Gary Burgess with 1,385, Meka Bosket Childs with 727, Don Jordan with 573, Amy Cofield with 471 and Elizabeth Moffly with 364 votes.

Bob Livingston (6,498 votes) defeated James Breazeale (4,331 votes) to take the adjutant general advantage in Pickens County, while Hugh E. Weathers (6,862 votes) beat Joe Farmer (4,192 votes) for the commissioner of agriculture position in the county.

Both South Carolina seats in the U.S. Senate were up for election.

In the seat formerly held by Jim DeMint, incumbent Tim Scott (10,588 votes) destroyed Randall Young (1,116 votes) in the Republican primary in Pickens County.

Lindsey Graham picked up 6,632 votes to ward off the challenges of Richard Cash (2,132 votes), Lee Bright (1,827 votes), Nancy Mace (502), Det Bowers (483 votes) and Bill O’Connor (377) in the primary for a shot at the Democratic primary winner in November.

The Democratic primary had no local offices contested, although there were options for state positions.

For state superintendent of education in Pickens County, Sheila C. Gallagher won with 370 votes to Tom Thompson’s 151, followed by Montrio M. Belton Sr. with 88 votes and Jerry Govan with 49.

Brad Hutto (473 votes) beat Jay Stamper (185) to compete for the right to challenge Graham in November. Joyce Dickerson earned 435 votes to beat both Sidney Moore (140) and Harry Pavilack (64 votes) to face Tim Scott for his U.S. Senate seat in November.

In addition to contested races, there were be a handful of advisory questions on the ballots for the primaries, asking voters for their opinions on issues that could be debated during the upcoming legislative session.

The first question on the Republican ballot involved the issue of abortion, asking voters if the state constitution should be amended to include the following language: “The privileges and immunities of citizens of South Carolina and the United States shall not be abridged, so that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. These rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception.” Pickens County voters cast 9,652 votes for yes and 2,201 for no.

The second question on the Republican ballot involved the eventual elimination of state income tax. Voters were asked if state law should be amended to replace the state income tax, tax imposed on individual estates, trusts and others by resetting the rate of taxation by 1.4 percent each year until the state income tax rate for all brackets is zero percent. The county said yes, with 9,054 votes to 2,807 no votes.

The first of three questions on the Democratic ballot involved the legalization of online gambling. It asked voters if they believe states — not Congress — should decide for themselves whether to allow online gaming and determine how to regulate online gaming in their state? County voters said yes on 483 ballots, while 197 ballots featured an answer of no.

The second question was related to gambling, transportation and taxes. The official text for the question read, “The South Carolina Department of Transportation estimates more than $20 billion is required to fix South Carolina’s crumbling roads and bridges. Should gaming laws be modernized to fund the repairs instead of a tax increase?” County voters said yes, with 495 affirmative votes and 187 negative votes.

The third question on the Democratic ballot involved the legal use of marijuana as a medicine, asking voters if medical marijuana should be legalized “for use in cases of severe, chronic illnesses when documented by a physician?” Pickens county voted in favor, with 587 votes to only 99 no votes.

The results include all but failsafe and provisional votes and are unofficial until they are certified on Thursday.