South Carolina statehouse candidates vie for Senate and House seats

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, tonight’s 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 is between incumbent Rep. April Cromer, a Republican from Anderson, and Anderson attorney Kyle White for House District 6.

With 13/15 precincts reporting, Cromer leads White 2,854-2,284.

Cromer, 45, has served in the state House of Representatives since 2023. During her first session, she became part of 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, who would take on public office for the first time, is endorsed by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. He is also backed by Conservation Voters of South Carolina, a group that promotes environmental conservation at the state policy level.  

The winner of the House District 6 Republican primary 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 the GOP winner in November. Childs’s wife, Jessicka Spearman, is running as a Democrat in Senate District 3.  

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.  

Sen. Dwight Loftis, a Republican from Greenville who has served in the Senate since 2019 and following a stint in the House of Representatives beginning in 1996, announced he would not seek reelection.  

Vying for his seat are House Rep. Jason Elliott, Greenville native Ben Carper, and dentist Dan Nickels.

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.  

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.”  

The winner of the Senate District 6 Republican primary does not face a Democratic challenger on November’s ballot.

Here are other Upstate races:  

House District 5

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

House District 7

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

The winner will face Libertarian Hunter Savirino in November.  

House District 8: Don Chapman leads

With 16/19 precincts reporting, Rep. Don Chapman leads Sherry Hodges 2,101-1,607.

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.  

The winner will challenge Jackie Todd of the Alliance Party in November.  

House District 9: James Galyean leads, but margin narrows for Sanders

With 14/18 precincts reporting, James Galyean leads Blake Sanders 1,607-1,563 and Rick Bradshaw 1,607-829.

Rick Bradshaw, who has served on the Anderson Board of Trustees, faced off against James Galyean and Blake 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 does not have a challenger in the November election.  

House District 10  

Incumbent Rep. Thomas Beach, 49, and Pam Anthony of Piedmont 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.  

The winner will not face a challenger in November.  

Senate District 7 

Incumbent Sen. Karl B. 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. He is also endorsed by the CVSC. He faced Michelle 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.  

The winner will not have a challenger in November.  

Senate District 11: Alvarez concedes

Just before 9:30 p.m., candidate Seni Alvarez conceded to Angela L. Geter, who led 1,054-409 with 36/37 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  

Former Sen. Lee 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 Hope 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 Skip Davenport, who has worked with the Greenville County Republican Party and is the third-generation owner of D&D Motors. Incumbent Sen. Roger Allen 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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