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Upstate SC Special Elections Loom

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The staunchly conservative South Carolina Upstate overwhelmingly supported businessman John Warren during the 2018 “Republican” gubernatorial primary season … but we’re told there will be very little “party unity” as Greenville County braces for a pair of upcoming special elections.

The first special election (in all likelihood) will be for sheriff of Greenville County … a race that was hotly contested in 2016.

The 2016 winner – Will Lewis – is unlikely to finish his term.  In fact, we’re told Lewis is in the process of negotiating his resignation after getting caught up in a major sex/ corruption scandal (most of which unfolded exclusively on this news site).

And while a date for this election won’t be set until Lewis resigns, there are already several candidates making moves in this race in anticipation of a special election.

Among them?  Former U.S. Secret Service deputy director A.T. Smith, who worked in the Greenville County sheriff’s office (GCSO) under its former leader Johnny Mack Brown – who was recently tapped by governor Henry McMaster to run the agency on an interim basis pending the outcome of the charges against Lewis.

Hobart Lewis – who ran unsuccessfully in 2016 – has made it clear he will run again at the first available opportunity.

“The possibility of a special election for sheriff is still hanging over Greenville, and if that does come to pass I am prepared to both campaign and serve,” Hobart Lewis wrote on his Facebook page recently.  “I was ready in 2016, and I am ready today.”

Meanwhile Keith Grounsell, a former GCSO vice and narcotics officer, is also actively campaigning for the job.

Smith, Lewis and Grounsell have all filed paperwork with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) to run for this post in 2020 – the next regularly scheduled election.  Obviously they would have to refile for a special election in the event Will Lewis were to resign and leave the office vacant prior to then.

Several others are also reportedly testing the waters (including Simpsonville, S.C. magistrate Dean Ford), so stay tuned for future reports on this race-to-be.

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Another looming special election to keep an eye on is the race for S.C. Senate District 6 (map).  This seat is currently occupied by William Timmons, although the young businessman recently captured the “Republican” nomination for the Palmetto State’s fourth congressional district (map).  That means he is a virtual lock to win this seat in November and succeed Trey Gowdy come January 2019.

Sometime after November, then, Timmons is expected to formally resign from the S.C. Senate – which would trigger a special election for his vacant seat.

State representative Dan Hamilton – who ran unsuccessfully for the fourth congressional district – is said to be among those eyeing the sixth district, as is Greenville, S.C. city councilwoman Amy Doyle.  We’re also told former state senator Mike Fair – who was ousted by Timmons in 2016 – is mulling a bid.  Fair held this seat for two decades prior to his defeat in the 2016 “Republican” primary.

Upstate businessman and attorney Ben Leinster is also mentioned as a possible candidate – one who would likely enter the race with Timmons’ support.

Again, we suspect other potential candidates are likely to emerge in this election as well … so stay tuned.

Bottom line?  Neither of these races are “official” yet, but with vacancies looming candidates are clearly jockeying for position.

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