With a margin of less than one percentage point, the race between incumbent John Yancey McGill and newcomer Cezar McKnight for SC Senate District 32 was one of the closest races to date- but enough to keep McGill in office.
Districtwide, the unofficial results on Thursday, June 14, showed McGill with 6,378 votes to McKnights 6,297 votes. District 32 covers all of Williamsburg and Georgetown counties as well as portions of Florence, Horry and Berkeley counties. The narrow margin of less than one percent mandates a recount and on Monday, June 18, the final totals were McGill would win by 81 votes.
Though McKnight’s bid for the senate seat failed, he was humbled by his home county’s voter turnout. “I am just humbled by the outcome. Not by the outcome, so much so but by the support that I got from everyone, particularly people in District 32. It just blew my mind,” said McKnight during the recount at the Williamsburg County Election Commission office in Kingstree. “The voters spoke and they spoke loudly. Unfortunately, for me, my side didn’t speak quite loudly enough but I’m just grateful for all the voters and thankful for it. The voters sent a message last Tuesday and I hope that message is heard.” Voter turnout in Williamsburg County is historically low but this primary saw a slight increase to 35 percent.
McGill, who has held the SC Senate seat since 1988, lost by a substantial margin in his home county (McGill’s 2,997 votes to McKnight’s 4,643).
McGill was not present during the recount. Palmer Freeman, an attorney stated on the senator’s behalf that the senator has five counties to cover but he is glad he won and is looking forward to four more years of service.
However, when asked to elaborate on comments McGill made to The Georgetown Times after Tuesday’s election results Freeman would only say they will have to see how it all plays out. “I think he said it in no kind of mean-spirited way,” said Freeman who claimed he didn’t know exactly what was said. McGill was quoted as saying he had never dealt with a racial divide like he had in this election, “In Williamsburg County it was a divisive type of election that I did not anticipate,” said McGill in the June 15, article.
McKnight felt the comments were uncalled for. “I don’t believe that it’s necessary to cloud this election with that issue because it wasn’t an issue,” said McKnight.
“The issue is whether or not they were being adequately represented in Columbia and the people of Williamsburg County said resoundingly “No,” so I think my opponent owes the people of Williamsburg an apology to suggest something that awful.”
In addition, in the race for coroner, incumbent Harrison McKnight beat W.C. Henryhand. County Council District 3 incumbent Harry Lee Darby defeated Robbie Morris. Sharon Washington Staggers ran unopposed for Clerk of Court, as she was the only certified candidate in that contest. However, Staggers, as well as Darby and incumbents for W.C. Sheriff and W.C. Council Districts, 4, and 5 could face challengers in November’s general election.
Several candidates were removed from the ballot after a Supreme Court ruling regarding the filing of Statement of Interest forms. Those candidates can still be on the November ballot by running as petition candidates if they meet the July 16, deadline. Each candidate must collect signatures from at least five percent of the voters in their district. The candidates are among more than 200 statewide who were disqualified under the ruling.
Information related to the election can be found at the South Carolina Election Commission website at scvotes.org.