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Election 2016: Senate races heads to a runoff

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Stephen Goldfinch says the Waccamaw Neck will be the battleground where his runoff with Reese Boyd for the S.C. Senate District 34 Republican primary will be decided on June 28.

The two were separated by just 2 percentage points and 138 votes in Tuesday’s primary — 3,232 for Goldfinch and 3,094 for Boyd. Joe Ford of Hagley finished third in the race with 852 votes, and Dick Withington of Myrtle Beach trailed with 399.

Goldfinch said he will alter his tactics for the runoff. “Our message is going to change,” he said. “We have been attacked with fraudulent misrepresentation for the last month. We thought the over-exaggerations that were in these ads would eventually turn people off, but we were wrong about that. I acknowledge the negative ads worked against me, especially TV ads. We will respond in kind.”

Goldfinch said he has hired an additional staffer from the Upstate and plans to personally touch 3,000 people by June 28. “I think we can do that,” he said. “We will be knocking on doors, running phone banks every single day.”

Boyd says he is more conservative than his former law partner Goldfinch and won the endorsement of Gov. Nikki Haley because of it. The state voter turnout of 13.8 percent, Boyd said, reflects the public’s dissatisfaction with the political process. “There are a lot of problems we need to fix,” he said, “and it’s another indication of just how badly some of these incumbents need to be replaced.”

Goldfinch said he will push the message to Georgetown County voters that they deserve a resident senator. Boyd lives in Horry County. Goldfinch said history shows that counties without a resident senator get left behind in funding for roads, schools and local government. He said retiring Sen. Ray Cleary of Murrells Inlet has endorsed him and he has represented Georgetown County in the state House. “There is no doubt, and history shows us that Georgetown County will be ignored if we get a senator from Horry County,” he said.

Boyd said he was pleased with his showing across the board. “Obviously, we did a little better in Horry than Georgetown, but we’ll fight for every vote no matter what precinct.”

He lives in Mount Gilead and said he spends a lot of time in Georgetown County so people shouldn’t worry about being shortchanged because of his address. “With a good swing of the bat,” he said, “I can hit a baseball over to Sen. Cleary’s house. Drawing much of a distinction of where a senator lives is kind of silly.”

Goldfinch won in the 10 Charleston County precincts that are part of the district by 112 votes out of 621 cast. Boyd won the 22 Horry County precincts by 85 out of 4,209 votes

In Georgetown County, only one District 34 precinct is outside the Waccamaw Neck. Goldfinch won the county by 120 out of 2,747 votes.

Goldfinch won the four Murrells Inlet precincts and Pawleys 1, 2 and 5.

Ford took 513 votes on the Waccamaw Neck. Goldfinch said he would appeal to voters who chose Ford and Withington. “These are people who voted for me before,” he said. “I want them to know that I understand. I get it. I know what they were looking for in other people. I appreciate what those other two brought to the race and I will embrace some of their stuff.”

Ford said he would direct the 852 people who voted for him to vote for Boyd. “Many of the issues we were looking at, Reese and I agreed on most of them,” Ford said. “On terms of ethics – I’m going to put it out there – Mr. Goldfinch is not ethical.”

Ford said he injected a point of view that the legislature has failed to maintain the state’s roads or address the issue of ethics in politics. “We still have the same players making the final decisions,” Ford said. “Road maintenance is still politicized. The fact of the matter is that now that the primary is past and the session is closed, I doubt there will be any more road bills coming out in the very near future. You can mark my words, the legislature won’t touch it.”

Ford said he would consider another run for state Senate in four years depending on the outcome of the runoff. “We ran a straightforward, ethical race,” he said. “I didn’t put signs in the public right-of-way. People stole my signs. It’s interesting that I would get 11 percent of the vote but be enough of a threat that someone would take every sign with the exception of one or two in the days before the election.”

Along with the Republican state Senate race, a Democratic primary for the District 3 seat on Georgetown County Council will also have a runoff. There is no Republican candidate for the seat in western part of the county.

Everett Carolina received the most votes with 331, while incumbent Leona “Tiger” Miller finished with 219 and Morris Johnson finished with 140.

Carolina and Miller will be on the ballot in the eight rural precincts on June 28.

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