Landscaping supervisor Joshua Putnam narrowly defeated small business consultant Hamp Johnson in Tuesday’s GOP runoff election for an open seat in the South Carolina Legislature.
The race was for the District 10 seat recently vacated by former Rep. Dan Cooper, who resigned last month after 21 years in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Cooper said he was exhausted and wished to spend more time with his family.
Putnam, who is 22, moves on to face Constitution Party candidate Dave Ballard in the August 30 special election. No Democrat has registered to run in the heavily-conservative area.
Putnam won Tuesday’s runoff by receiving 52 percent of the vote to Johnson’s 48 percent. The margin was only 79 votes out of 2,237 cast, according to unofficial returns. In an unusual situation, more people voted in the runoff than in the July 12 primary, although it was still less than ten percent of the district’s 23,400 registered voters.
Putnam, a Powdersville native, would be the youngest member of the General Assembly if he wins. However, the age is hardly unprecedented. Georgetown Republican Kevin Ryan was elected last year at the same age. Two years before that, Winnsboro Democrat Boyd Brown was also elected at age 22. Bamberg Democrat Bakari Sellers was 22 when he was elected to his first term in 2006. All three are still serving in the House.