After three years away from the Legislature, former S.C. Sen. Greg Gregory will return to the District 16 seat.
Unofficial results from Tuesday's special election showed Gregory taking 77 percent of the 5,378 votes cast in York and Lancaster counties.
Gregory, a Lancaster Republican, will be on the job quickly. He has a 10 a.m. meeting scheduled in Columbia with state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, this morning to discuss legislative redistricting.
"There's no rest for the weary," Gregory said.
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Gregory was elected to fill the vacancy left when Indian Land Republican Mick Mulvaney was elected to the U.S. House last fall, taking the 5th Congressional District seat formerly held by John Spratt.
On Tuesday, Gregory defeated Democratic candidate Keith Brann and Libertarian candidate Stan Smith, both of Fort Mill. Brann received nearly 18 percent of the votes, while Smith had 5 percent in unofficial results posted by the State Election Commission.
Gregory, president of Builders Supply, was surprised by the margin of his win.
"It was a little higher than what I had forecast," Gregory said. "We're certainly happy. We put together a good game plan for the 100 days we had and it worked out well for us. Nobody has ever gotten more than 43 percent of the vote against my team, and I've been using the same team for 20 years. Nobody's going to outwork us. So when you start with name recognition and you have a team that will outwork anyone, you can't be beat."
Turnout was light around the Senate 16 district, which includes most of Lancaster County, including Indian Land, the Fort Mill area and most of southeastern York County east of Interstate 77.
At 6:45 p.m., only 96 people had voted at Unity Presbyterian Church, the Fort Mill 4 precinct. Only 114 had voted at the precinct in Fort Mill Town Hall.
Gregory held the S.C. Senate seat for 16 years before retiring from the Legislature in 2008.
He returned to run for the Senate District 16 seat after Lancaster pharmacy owner Hugh Mobley dropped out of the race citing health reasons. Gregory had endorsed Mobley.
Gregory took an early financial lead in the 15-week campaign. In Gregory's most recent financial disclosures to the State Ethics Commission, he reported $32,675 in donations collected. Smith raised more than $3,000, while Brann supported his own campaign with $6,000 of personal funds.
Smith said he was "impressed" by Gregory's unofficial margin of victory. Brann, a corporate tax accountant, could not immediately be reached for comment.
But Smith said he didn't feel finances played a part in Gregory's win.
"I think it's history," Smith said. "The old South versus the new South, and the old South carries the day. In this community, old ties really matter."
Smith, owner of Human Patterns, a consulting and software development company, wished Gregory well.
"I wish him the very best as he serves the people of the district," Smith said.
The election will be certified on Friday.