State House

Dick Harpootlian Concedes To Russell Ott

“The system worked …”

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South Carolina senator Dick Harpootlian conceded a hotly contested primary to state representative Russell Ott on Wednesday morning (June 12, 2024), wishing his Democratic the best of luck and vowing to support him in what is expected to be a competitive race in November.

Harpootlian and Ott were seeking the Democratic nomination for S.C. Senate District 26 – which became contested earlier this year when veteran senator Nikki Setzler announced his impending departure from the legislature.

“The system worked yesterday,” Harpootlian told a group of reporters who gathered outside of his downtown Columbia, S.C. office.

Harpootlian was expected to trounce Ott among Democratic voters in this district given the latter’s conservative record on the issues of guns and (especially) abortion. Instead, Ott used an aggressive grassroots campaign – and a flood of third party advertising – to pull off arguably the biggest upset of the 2024 primary season.

In addition to mail pieces subsidized by the S.C. Farm Bureau  – which Ott’s father leads – a last-minute barrage of negative ads from a third party group sealed Harpootlian’s fate.

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“It is bad enough that he has dedicated his life to helping rich people get away with murder, literally!” a text message trumpeting the ad on election day noted, referring to Harpootlian’s representation of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.

Ott also benefited from the support of S.C. House minority leader Todd Rutherford, whom State House sources say is in the midst of a “blood feud” with Harpootlian over the issue of judicial reform – which Harpootlian championed in the S.C. Senate.

Despite the acrimony, Harpootlian – a former two-time chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party (SCDP) – made it clear he was backing his erstwhile rival as he awaits his Republican challenger.

“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “He’s running as a Democrat.”

Harpootlian also brushed off the suggestion that his high-profile work on the Murdaugh case cost him with voters.

“If it did, so be it,” he told reporters.

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With all ballots cast and counted, Ott drew 2,414 votes (51.3 percent of all ballots cast) compared to Harpootlian’s 2,294 votes (48.7 percent). That narrow, 120-vote margin was driven by a surprisingly strong turnout for Ott in rural Calhoun County – where he received 901 votes compared to only 175 for Harpootlian.

Overall, turnout in this election was nothing short of abysmal – part of a statewide trend which saw only 13.6 percent of registered voters go to the polls. Turnout was also abysmal for Democrats when they chose Joe Biden as their presidential candidate back in February.

Ott, a farmer from St. Matthews, S.C., will face the winner of a Republican runoff election pitting top vote-getter Chris Smith against Jason Guerry. Smith received 1,825 votes in the GOP primary for this seat (or 38.2 percent of ballots cast) compared to 1,687 votes for Guerry (35.3 percent). Because neither candidate won a majority of votes, they will go up against each other head-to-head in a runoff election on June 25, 2024.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 eight children.

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3 comments

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan June 12, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Ding dong the Dick is Dead!
Which old Dick? The Demo Dick!
Ding dong the Demo Dick is dead!

Maybe he’ll have time to find the real murders now?

Reply
Avatar photo
VERITAS Top fan June 12, 2024 at 4:01 pm

Bye, bye, Big Dick.

Reply
River Top fan June 12, 2024 at 9:33 pm

Back to perverting justice for monetary gain full time.

Reply

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