Bright has criticized Hawkins for being a trial lawyer who has made nearly $900,000 off workers compensation lawsuits. Some of his supporters have even brought up a dropped 1989 rape charge against Hawkins.
Hawkins, meanwhile, hammered Bright– whose voting record is arguably the most conservative in the Senate– as a grandstander who is out of touch with his district. He also focused on Bright’s trucking firm that went into foreclosure this year.
Bright was jubilant after winning by a much larger margin than many observers had expected. “I’m proud of the voters,” he said Tuesday night, “We’ve got a conservative group out there and they came to the polls.”
Governor Nikki Haley endorsed Bright in the race, which is significant as she has largely stayed out of other legislative races. She insisted it had nothing to do with Hawkins’s endorsement of her opponent Vincent Sheheen in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
Fair hangs on to seat
State Sen. Mike Fair also beat back a challenge from political consultant Chris Sullivan for the Republican nomination, picking up 54 percent of the vote to Sullivan’s 46 percent. Fair has been the target of several Tea Party groups who say his record is not conservative enough.
His race for re-election is likely not over, however. In November, he could face Tommie Reece as a petition candidate. Reece was one of the candidates removed by the state Supreme Court for not filing her financial paperwork properly.
Corbin moves from House to Senate
Rep. Tom Corbin (R-Travelers Rest) won an unusual race to replace retiring Sen. Phillip Shoopman (R-Greer). Corbin defeated political newcomer and physical therapist Amanda Somers Tuesday, receiving 63 percent of the vote to Somers’s 35 percent. He is in his first term in the state House of Representatives.
Somers originally started her campaign believing that she would face Shoopman. However, the senator changed his mind after already filing for re-election, deciding instead to spend more time on his family and engineering job.
It was at that point after a March 30 deadline that Corbin filed to run to succeed Shoopman. Somers disputed his filing, but the South Carolina GOP said they were allowed to re-open the race if the current officeholder dropped out. Somers said Tuesday that she would not challenge the result.
There will be a special election for Corbin’s House seat later this year.