Former state Attorney General Henry McMaster easily dispatched Columbia businessman Mike Campbell on Tuesday night to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, McMaster had nearly 64 percent of the vote to Campbell’s 36 percent.
“This was a statement by the people that they want experienced leadership to help take this state on the course it should be on. And that is right to the top,” McMaster said after the results showed his landslide.
He will now face Democratic candidate State Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, in November. Sellers was unopposed in the Democratic race.
Campbell could not gather any momentum from his 20-percentage-point loss to McMaster in the June 10 primary. The investment manager and son of late governor Carroll Campbell had finished third on that night, but stayed in the race after second-place finisher Pat McKinney dropped out.
Campbell said he would support McMaster in the general election.
Sellers’ campaign sent out a challenge to McMaster immediately after the victory was called, calling for five Lincoln-Douglas style debates around the state.
“My opponent represents the status quo and is a decades-long career politician who has been running for office for close to thirty years,” he said in the email. “This election is not about what was South Carolina was, nor what South Carolina is, it’s about what South Carolina can be. We have an opportunity to retire the ‘good-ole boy network” in Columbia.’ Fresh leadership and fresh ideas is what I will bring to our great state as our next Lt. Governor.”
McMaster did not respond to Sellers’ challenge when asked Tuesday night, saying he wanted to concentrate on his victory first.
McMaster has portrayed himself as a close ally of Gov. Nikki Haley. Haley appointed him to the Ports Authority board and he also co-chaired an ethics reform task force she appointed in 2012.
This will be the last election where voters will independently elect the lieutenant governor. Starting in 2018, candidates for governor will select a running mate to hold the office.