Every poll conducted so far has incumbent Republican Nikki Haley winning reelection, although her lead has varied from 3 percentage points in June from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling to 20 points in the Charleston Post & Courier/Sinclair Broadcasting poll last month (although the P&C poll was conducted before independent candidate Tom Ervin dropped out).
Democratic nominee Vincent Sheheen is hoping for better luck in his rematch against the governor, who edged him out in a surprisingly close 51 percent to 47 percent 2010 gubernatorial race. Sheheen has served as a state senator from Kershaw County since 2004.
Libertarian Party nominee Steve French owns a Mount Pleasant grease disposal company. He is expected to draw some support from Haley, but still finish with under five percent of the vote. He has not sought public office before this year. United Citizens Party nominee Morgan Bruce Reeves is a Winnsboro native who owns a company that clears lots for construction work. He also ran for governor in 2010, receiving 2 percent of the vote.
Republican Henry McMaster is considered the favorite in this race. The former state Attorney General is seeking the post for a second time (he first ran for it in 1990). McMaster is also a former U.S. Attorney and chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. He is taking on Democratic candidate Bakari Sellers, a Bamberg legislator and attorney who is taking his first shot at statewide office. Sellers was the youngest member of the South Carolina House when he was first elected at age 22.
This will be the last time that voters independently choose the lieutenant governor’s position.
Beginning in 2018, each candidate for governor will select a running mate for the office.
According to pre-election polls, this is the closest among statewide races. Republican nominee Molly Spearman is relying on her experience representing educational interests at the statewide level. Spearman was nominated by GOP voters despite last serving in office as Democrat while a representative in the SC House. She later became a Deputy Superintendent in the state Department of Education, working to lobby for the agency’s interests in the Statehouse. She was later hired as the executive director of the SC Association of School Administrators — a job she still holds today.
She is challenged by Democratic nominee Tom Thompson — an education consultant who is a former education dean from South Carolina State University. It is Thompson’s second run for the seat after a loss in the 2010 Democratic primary. His “10-point plan” includes getting school districts more involved and pay raises for teachers.
American Party nominee Ed Murray could play spoiler in the race. The North High School administrator has pushed for a “21st Century education” that would increase “student accountability” and “governing more from the center.” He is a native of West Columbia.
Secretary of State:
Normally, the Secretary of State’s election stays far below the radar. Few voters can even name both candidates seeking the position, which runs the state office that handles business incorporations and regulates nonprofits, among other duties. But 12-year Republican incumbent Mark Hammond is facing his most vocal Democratic challenger yet — Charleston nonprofit management consultant Ginny Deerin. Deerin has criticized Hammond for commuting from Spartanburg to Columbia three days each week. Hammond responds that he works from home and spends time attending functions around the state — not taking days off.
Deerin got some minor headlines after receiving endorsements from the S.C. Club for Growth — a conservative political action group that had never endorsed a Democratic opponent prior to this race.
Republican Alan Wilson is considered a heavy favorite over Democratic challenger Parnell Diggs. Wilson has focused his first four years in office on lawsuits against the federal government, but has also gotten attention for leading successful indictment efforts against then-Lt. Governor Ken Ard and SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell (although he removed himself from the Harrell case just weeks before a grand jury handed down the indictments).
Diggs is a Garden City attorney who has served as president of the National Federation of the Blind in South Carolina.
Suffering from detached retinas himself, Diggs still handles cases at his own firm. He has criticized Wilson for “playing politics” with lawsuits against the Obama Administration.
Republican Richard Eckstrom is seeking a fourth term as the state’s top accountant, which followed previous service as the state Treasurer before that. He is expected to defeat Democratic canddiate Kyle Herbert, a Columbia hospital CPA. Herbert has knocked Eckstrom over several ethics complaints filed against him, claims which Eckstrom notes were dismissed by the State Ethics Commission. Eckstrom has pointed towards his own efforts to make it easier to track state spending online.
Republican incumbent Hugh Weathers is a heavy favorite over American Party nominee Emile DeFelice and United Citizens Party candidate David Edmond. Weathers has been twice reelected to the office after taking over as Commissioner in 2004 following the bribery arrest of his predecessor. The 11-year veteran also runs a dairy farm and trucking business in Bowman. DeFelice ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006 as a Democrat, but the farmer’s market organizer is trying again. DeFelice is criticizing what he calls waste at the Department of Agriculture.
Edmond is a Methodist minister and Army veteran who lives in Columbia and served on the Ricland County Disabilities and Special Neeeds Board.
State Treasurer Curtis Loftis and Adjutant General Robert Livingston are both running unopposed for their seats. Each is a Republican who is finishing up his first term in office.