Seni Alvarez and Kyle White concede to primary opponents, runoffs ahead

Gun Rights

South Carolina on Tuesday held its statewide primary ahead of the general election this November.

In the Upstate, many of the statehouse races featured incumbent lawmakers aiming for another term in the state’s General Assembly.  

South Carolina has an open primary, meaning registered voters can choose to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary election. They cannot vote in both.  

In November, the winners will see their names on the ballot a second time before the Palmetto State officially decides who its next round of elected officials will be.  

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One of the key Upstate races was between incumbent Rep. April Cromer, a Republican from Anderson, and Anderson attorney Kyle White for House District 6. Cromer won a spot on the November ballot when White conceded about 10:30 p.m.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Cromer won against White 3,150 votes to 2,492 votes.

Cromer, 45, has served in the state House of Representatives since 2023. During her first session, she joined the South Carolina Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives. Per the Clemson Tiger, she was recently part of an effort to restrict menstrual hygiene products to women’s bathrooms, as opposed to the school’s efforts to offer the products in all bathrooms regardless of gender.  

White was endorsed by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and backed by Conservation Voters of South Carolina, a group that promotes environmental conservation at the state policy level.  

In his concession statement, White congratulated Cromer and said he was proud of the campaign he ran despite not getting the results he hoped for.

“This journey further affirmed what I have long believed: Anderson County is a special place because of the great businesses and people who call it home,” White said. “I will forever love this community and do my part to make it a better place. I urge everyone to do their part by staying engaged, voting, and even running for office.”

After winning the primary, Cromer was to face off with Democratic candidate Eric Childs of Anderson, a combat veteran who advocated against bans on certain medical care for transgender youth. Childs passed away after suffering injuries from a car accident on May 31. It was not clear whether Democrats would have a candidate to oppose Cromer in November.

More: Huff leads competitive SC Statehouse District 28 race as results come in

Voters in state Senate District 6 also saw a contested race on Tuesday. Rep. Jason Elliott won the most votes, but will again face Greenville native Ben Carper later this month in a runoff election.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Elliott received 6,882 votes, Carper 4,466, and dentist Dan Nickels 2,883.

But because no candidate won more than 50% of the vote, Elliott and Carper will head to a runoff election June 25.

The winner will replace Sen. Dwight Loftis, a Republican from Greenville who announced he would not seek re-election after serving in the Senate since 2019 and had a stint in the House of Representatives beginning in 1996.

The race has no Democrat challenger in November.

Elliott, 54, made headlines as the Palmetto State’s first openly gay lawmaker. He has served in the statehouse since 2017 and is backed by Gov. McMaster. During his tenure in the House, he’s sponsored successful bills increasing Industry Fund Partnership tax credits and authorizing a baccalaureate degree in advanced manufacturing.  

“I’m honored to win the most votes in the primary — it’s clear voters want a proven conservative in the State Senate. I look forward to meeting voters between now and June 25,” Elliott said in a statement.

Carper, a real estate broker with a background in teaching high school and college, is backed by Bob Jones III, the current chancellor of Bob Jones University. Ahead of the election, he said he planned to work with the SC Freedom Caucus.  

Nickels received the support of Sen. Josh Kimbrell, a Republican from Spartanburg, but also nabbed an endorsement from the departing Loftis. In a letter posted to Nickels’ campaign site, Loftis wrote that Nickels is “capable, sincere and dedicated to service for the betterment of our state.”  

Here are other Upstate races:  

House District 5: Collins wins

With 100% of precincts reporting, incumbent Rep. Neal Collins led Brandy Tarleton 3,215-2,633.

Collins, a 41-year-old Republican from Pickens who has served in the House since 2015, faced off against Upstate native Tarleton. Tarleton assembled many conservative endorsements. Collins does not face a challenger on the November ballot.  

House District 7: Gilreath wins against West

With 100% of precincts reporting, Lee Gilreath unseated incumbent Rep. Jay West 2,747-1,551.

West, 59, has served in the House since 2017 and previously served on the Belton City Council. He faced off against Gilreath, a farmer and businessman from Belton, who prides himself on not being a career politician.  

Gilreath will face Libertarian Hunter Savirino in November.  

House District 8: Don Chapman wins

With 100% of precincts reporting, Rep. Don Chapman won a second term against Sherry Hodges. Chapman led Hodges 2,748-1,607.

Freshman incumbent Chapman, 58, began serving in the House of Representatives in 2023. The Republican from Townville faced off against Hodges, a self-described “California refugee” who has criticized Republicans for not being conservative enough.  

Chapman will challenge Jackie Todd of the Alliance Party in November.  

House District 9: Sanders leads despite Galyean’s early lead, runoff ahead

With 100% of precincts reporting, former mayor Blake Sanders led James Galyean 1,852-1,724 and Rick Bradshaw 1,852-870.

Sanders and Galyean will head to a runoff election June 25.

Bradshaw, who has served on the Anderson Board of Trustees, faced off against Galyean and Sanders for Rep. Anne Thayer’s (R-Anderson) spot after she announced she would not seek reelection. Galyean previously worked for the Supreme Court of South Carolina before founding Reason and Republic Charter School. Sanders, who is a landscape architect and a lecturer at Clemson, also served as mayor of West Pelzer. He was elected in 2015 and has received support from several mayors throughout the Upstate. He is also endorsed by Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC).  

The winner of the runoff does not have a challenger in the November election.  

House District 10: Beach wins

With 100% of precincts reporting, incumbent Rep. Thomas Beach leads Pam Anthony 2,660-1,327.

Beach, 49, and Anthony faced off for the House seat in District 10. Anthony has served as the academic program director at Greenville Technical College for 30 years. Beach, a realtor, is also part of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus and is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.  

Beach will not face a challenger in November.  

Senate District 7: Allen wins

With 100% of precincts reporting, incumbent Sen. Karl B. Allen defeated Michelle Goodwin-Calwile 2,572-1,210.

“I am very honored to continue the work we have started to improve the quality of life for all as we strive to make Senate District 7 first,” Allen said in a statement.

Allen, an attorney and Democrat from Greenville has served in the state legislature for more than 20 years. Allen, 53, began as a House Representative in 2001 before moving to the Senate in 2013. The CVSC also endorsed him. He faced Goodwin-Calwile, a retired teacher who serves on the Greenville County School Board of Trustees. She is also part of the District 25 Neighborhood Association.  

Goodwin-Calwile conceded late Tuesday night.

“We will be holding the incumbent accountable for all the things he said on his platform like fully funding base student cost, and women’s reproductive rights among other things,” Goodwin-Calwile said in a statement. “Now maybe he will do right by our community.” 

Allen will not have a challenger in November.  

Senate District 11: Alvarez concedes, Geter moves forward

Just before 9:30 p.m., candidate Seni Alvarez conceded to Angela L. Geter, who led 1,063-412 with 100% of precincts reporting.

“I’d like to congratulate Angela Geter on her victory,” Alvarez wrote in a statement. “Angela has my full support in her upcoming contest against Josh Kimbrell, and I will do whatever I can to help her win in November, because we deserve better representation in the Upstate, and Josh Kimbrell does not reflect the values of our district.”

Alvarez, an activist and accountant from Spartanburg who previously ran for city council, faced Geter in the Democratic primary. Geter previously ran for the House of Representatives in Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Democratic Party. She owns an accounting consulting firm.  

Geter will oppose Republican incumbent Sen. Josh Kimbrell (R-Spartanburg) on November’s ballot.  

Senate District 12: Bright leads, runoff ahead

With 100% of precincts reporting, Former Sen. Lee Bright won against his three opponents. Bright had 4,185 votes, Skip Davenport 2,090, Hope Blackley, 2,517 votes, and incumbent Sen. Roger Allen Nutt, 2,654.

Next, Bright and Nutt will head to a runoff election June 25.

Bright, 54, who prides himself on being very conservative, hoped to return to the statehouse after losing a runoff in 2017. In a jam-packed race, he faced Blackley, a former clerk of court in Spartanburg who also worked for U.S. Rep. William Timmons (R-SC). She’s endorsed by the CVSC.  

Blackley and Bright also faced Davenport, who has worked with the Greenville County Republican Party and is the third-generation owner of D&D Motors. Nutt, 58, is an engineer and pastor from Moore. He started his Senate tenure in 2021 and is endorsed by the National Rifle Association.  

Sarah Swetlik covers climate change and environmental issues in South Carolina’s Upstate for The Greenville News. Reach her at sswetlik@gannett.com or on X at @sarahgswetlik

Have a question for Sustainability with Sarah? Ask here or email sswetlik@gannett.com

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