Last month’s decision by South Carolina state senator Nikki Setzler to step down at the end of his current term in office has set up a high-profile fight for a newly drawn Midlands-area Senate seat.
After nearly half a century in office, Setzler announced his impending departure in a lengthy, self-congratulatory tome published in The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
State senator Dick Harpootlian – who resides in the recently reconfigured S.C. Senate District 26 (.pdf) – announced his candidacy the day after Setzler indicated he would not run again. An über-successful trial lawyer and veteran Democratic politico, Harpootlian is the odds-on favorite to win this seat.
According to our sources, though, the bomb-throwing lawyer – who resides in downtown Columbia, S.C. – will not be coasting to the Democratic nomination unchallenged. Announcing his candidacy for this same seat this week? State representative Russell Ott of St. Matthews, S.C.
(Click to view)
On Monday (February 5, 2024), Ott filed paperwork with the S.C. Ethics Commission (SCSEC) to campaign for this seat – loaning himself $1,000 to do so. Earlier today, he informed supporters of his plans to run for the district – which includes parts of Richland, Lexington, Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.
Ott’s decision sets up a primary fight against Harpootlian, who currently represents a heavily gerrymandered district drawn over a decade ago for former S.C. Senate president John Courson.
Harpootlian– who has gained international recognition representing convicted killer Alex Murdaugh – won this seat in a special election in November 2018 after Courson resigned amid an influence-peddling scandal. He was subsequently reelected to a full, four-year term in 2020 – but his district was drawn off the map ahead of this year’s election to accommodate population shifts toward the booming Palmetto Lowcountry.
Ott has represented the citizens of S.C. House District 93 since October 2013. Like his father, former state representative Harry Ott, he is a farmer and a businessman.
The newly drawn Senate seat Harpootlian and Ott are competing for leans Democratic – thanks to the heavily liberal “Little Moscow” enclave around the state capitol. However, several “Republican” candidates are reportedly considering running for it.
The filing period for partisan primary races in South Carolina begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on March 16, 2024 and closes on April 1, 2024. Partisan primary races will be held on June 11, 2024, and if no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, a runoff election will be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024.
This is a developing story … please check back for updates …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.