- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on South Carolina’s primaries (all times local):

12:15 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford has lost his first race in South Carolina.

Sanford was defeated by state Rep. Katie Arrington in Tuesday’s primary. Arrington was supported in a last-minute tweet by President Donald Trump after spending most of her campaign saying Sanford was too critical of the president.

Both Trump’s tweet and one of Arrington’s ads referred to Sanford’s 2009 affair where he flew to Argentina to see his lover while his staff unknowingly told reporters he was hiking on the Appalachian trial.

Still, South Carolina voters kept electing Sanford despite the lies and the infidelity. He had never lost a race going back to 1994 before Tuesday.

Arrington works for a defense contractor and will face Democrat Joe Cunningham in the fall.

___

10:55 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford is trailing in the Republican congressional primary to an opponent supported in last-minute tweets by President Donald Trump.

As results came in Tuesday, Sanford told a crowd in suburban Charleston: “I’ve always been a realist and at this point, based on the numbers I see, I’m going to lose this race.”

With much of the vote counted, state Rep. Katie Arrington was on the cusp of winning outright. But as Sanford spoke, the race was still too close to call.

Arrington says Sanford criticized Trump too much, calling him a “Never Trumper.” One ad said “it’s time for Mark Sanford to take a hike - for real this time.” The refers to 2009, when Sanford’s aides said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he actually visited a woman with whom he was having an affair in Argentina.

Sanford has never lost an election in South Carolina, including two terms in the U.S. House after the affair surfaced.

___

9:25 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, has been forced into a runoff for the Republican nomination.

McMaster was the top vote getter in Tuesday’s primary but failed to win the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff. Now, he and Greenville businessman John Warren are headed for a second contest June 26.

The vote tested the heft of Trump’s endorsement in South Carolina, where McMaster became governor last year following Nikki Haley’s departure to serve as U.N. Ambassador. As lieutenant governor, McMaster was the nation’s first statewide elected official to back Trump ahead of South Carolina’s early presidential primary.

McMaster was unsuccessful in his 2010 gubernatorial bid, losing a four-way primary to Haley. The GOP nominee faces Democratic state Rep. James Smith in November.

___

Longtime state Rep. James Smith has won the Democratic nomination in South Carolina’s gubernatorial race.

Smith defeated Charleston consultant Phil Noble and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis in Tuesday’s primary.

Smith has led the pack in fundraising, but recent polling in the race showed many voters had yet to make up their minds.

The incumbent, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, is seeking his first full term in office.

Smith has served in the state Legislature for 22 years. He was a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and South Carolina Army National Guard but resigned his commission after the Sept. 11 attacks to enlist in the infantry.

Smith has selected fellow state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell as his running mate.

___

9:10 p.m.

Joe Cunningham has won the Democratic nomination in South Carolina’s coastal 1st Congressional District.

The construction lawyer and yoga studio owner defeated Toby Smith on Tuesday and will go on to face a Republican in November’s general election.

The district, which includes Charleston and the southern coast, has not elected a Democrat since 1978.

___

7:10 p.m.

Election officials in South Carolina report no significant problems as the polls close for the state’s primary elections.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Tuesday evening that a few counties reported heavier than normal turnout, but most places had light turnout.

The chief races are Republican and Democratic primaries for governor. There are nine congressional primaries in South Carolina’s seven U.S. House seats. Two of them involve incumbents.

U.S. Rep Mark Sanford is facing a well-financed challenger who said he doesn’t support President Donald Trump enough. State Rep. Katie Arrington was the subject of a Trump message on Twitter asking voters to pick her.

___

4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is backing the opponent of U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford just hours before polls close in South Carolina.

Trump posted on his official Twitter account that Mark Sanford was very unhelpful to him and was better off in Argentina, referring to his trip to South America to have an affair in 2009 when his staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Trump asked South Carolina Republicans in the coastal 1st District around Charleston to back state Rep. Katie Arrington, who spent most of her campaign calling Sanford a “Never Trumper.”

Trump’s post was made less than three hours before polls closed.

Sanford has never lost in eight primaries in South Carolina, including in his return to the U.S. House after the affair marred the end of his second term as governor

___

12:30 p.m.

Election officials in South Carolina report a generally light turnout in primary voting.

Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Tuesday afternoon the overall turnout is light as Republicans and Democrats select candidates for the fall elections.

He says primary turnout typically ranges from 13 percent to 27 percent of registered voters.

Whitmire says turnout has been heavier in Cherokee and Darlington counties, where there are sharply contested local races.

No serious voting problems have been reported. Whitmire said a few locations had power outage problems because of Monday night storms. But he says that did not affect voting and the problems were quickly resolved.

The high priority races in South Carolina are for governor. Gov. Henry McMaster faces four challengers for the Republican nomination. Three Democrats seek their party’s nomination.

___

7 a.m.

South Carolinians have started voting in primary elections, with the governor’s race at the top of the ticket.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has the backing of President Trump as voters cast ballots Tuesday. McMaster is being challenged by four candidates, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, Charleston attorney Catherin Templeton and Greenville businessman John Warren.

Charleston consultant Phil Noble, Columbia Rep. James Smith and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Runoffs are possible June 26 in both contests. South Carolina requires candidates to get more than half of the vote to win a nomination.

There are also primaries in some of South Carolina’s seven congressional districts. Republican Reps. Mark Sanford and Tim Rice are among those facing primary challengers.

Polls close at 7 p.m.

___

1:30 a.m.

South Carolina voters are finally getting their chance to weigh in as polls open for the state’s primary elections.

On the top of Tuesday’s ballot is the governor’s race. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster faces four challengers, while three Democratic candidates are battling it out for their party’s nomination.

Republican U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford and Tom Rice are facing Republican challengers, as are Attorney General Alan Wilson and Secretary of State Mark Hammond. A number of state lawmakers are also in primary elections.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. In races where candidates don’t secure 50 percent of votes case, runoff elections of the top two vote-getters will be held June 26.


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