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SC Democratic Party rejects one primary candidate, endorses another

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In a May 28 meeting of its executive committee, the South Carolina Democratic Party endorsed one of its primary candidates for what might be the first time in its almost 200-year history. The vote to stand behind state Sen. Brad Hutto (Orangeburg) over candidate Jay Stamper for U.S. Senate was unanimous.

“Here in South Carolina, Hutto has proven he’s willing to fight hard for the people of our state, and that he’s exactly the kind of leader we need to take on those in Washington that stand in the way of progress,” said SCDP Vice Chair Kaye Koonce.

The resolution calling for endorsement of Hutto over primary opponent Jay Stamper was introduced by committee representatives from Aiken County, who praised the state senator’s career in law and established record of progressive representation since first elected to State Legislature in 1996. Distrust in Stamper, which was also discussed in the meeting, may have played a part in the committee’s decision, as well.

Stamper announced his candidacy in the race to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) immediately after first moving to South Carolina in Feb. 2013. After media released news of his felony convictions and political pranks, the Seattle, Washington native began issuing questionable statements attacking SCDP and Hutto, as well as a Democratic candidate in another race. In early 2014, a Republican campaign consultant in the state released a message he received from Stamper, in which Stamper described himself to be a “Rand Paul/tea party constitutional conservative(.)”

After the meeting that ended with endorsement of Hutto, SCDP chairman Jaime Harrison quickly redirected focus to November’s general election, jabbing the Republican incumbent. “Unlike Lindsey Graham, Brad Hutto will always put South Carolina first,” Harrison said in press release. “Graham is more worried about world affairs and national television shows than he is the folks back home. Brad Hutto will make sure South Carolina gets its fair share in education funding and see that our rural infrastructure is strengthened – that’s the kind of leader we need in the Senate representing South Carolina.”

The primary election is scheduled for June 10.