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Dist. 42 Voter Turnout Disappointing, Run-Off Set For Aug. 27
8/14/2013 12:29:19 PM

Poll Manager Licia Hendricks helps a registered voter at Charleston precincts 12 & 13 at Burke High School. The voting turnout was light all day as only 4,772 out of 62,231 votes were cast, a total turnout of 7.67%. Photo: Tolbert Smalls

By Barney Blakeney 

The race was hotly contested for about eight weeks as the candidates and their supporters lined up. Relationships were strained and peoples’ roots were questioned. In the end it came down to the voters. And they were absent. 

Perhaps that’s the real story of the Democratic primary to select a nominee for the Oct. 1 special election to fill the seat vacated by former S.C., Sen. Robert Ford in Dist. 42. 

Six candidates entered the field to win the nomination. Charleston attorney Marlon Kimpson emerged as the winner. He will face-off against former Charleston City Councilman and businessman Maurice Washington in the Aug. 27 run-off election. 

Kimpson received 2,100 votes (44 percent) to Washington’s 1,030 votes (22 percent).

Kimpson needed more than 50 percent of the votes to win the election outright. Former S.C. Highway Commissioner and businesswoman Margaret Rush received 974 votes, 66 votes less than Washington. 

Rush said she will not concede the election until all her options have been explored. 

Initially Rush welcomed Tuesday’s low voter turnout. But the election in which only about eight percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls proved disappointing, she said. 

”There was so much at stake, and still is,” she said. 

Dist. 42 is one of the most expansive in the Metropolitan Charleston area. It covers parts of downtown Charleston, West Ashley and North Charleston and encompasses much of the area’s industrial and commercial entities. 

The district has about 62,000 eligible voters. Only about 4,700 cast ballots. 

Kimpson said he is excited about the substantial lead he carries into the run-off election and is unsure that the voter turnout was less than anticipated for a special election. 

That thought was echoed at Sanders-Clyde Elementary School were polls for Charleston precincts 8, 9, and 10 were located. Only about 100 voters cast ballots at the school situated in the midst of one of the peninsula’s largest public housing complexes. 

A poll worker said the number of voters casting ballots there Tuesday was consistent with special elections. Only about 900 voters cast ballots at peninsula precincts. 

Kimpson said the clear majority of the votes he got indicates voters received his message that he’ll fight for public education and healthcare, a message he’ll take into the run-off election. But he added his campaign will have to work harder to increase voter turnout for the run-off election. 

Washington said the election resulted in the set up he wanted. Emerging from the field of six candidates to face-off against a single opponent offers an even opportunity at winning, he said. 

“I’m looking forward to engaging the citizens over he next two weeks,” he said.

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