Ashley Martin campaigned hard. The 27-year old Winthrop University graduate drove around the York County Council's District 5, talking to residents and identifying areas in need of change.
She outlined a long-term plan, looking to balance residential growth with commercial and small businesses in the district and county. Yet, Martin lost the vote by a 2-to-1 margin, the largest of any challenger to a County Council incumbent in Tuesday's primary. She said she's thankful for the 500 votes she received against eight-term incumbent Curwood Chappell.
"People told me I worked harder than my opponent. It just shows you the power of incumbency," Martin said. "It's hard when you don't have name recognition as someone there 16 years."
Defeated challengers such as Martin say it was difficult to attempt to unseat established council members, despite animosity between the council members during the last two years.
Analysts say several factors contributed to six County Council incumbents surviving the challenges in Tuesday's primary election.
"I think it would be a mistake to lay the results on any one factor," said Scott Huffmon, a political science professor Winthrop University. "In the end, we may not agree with the incumbent on everything, but we often choose the devil we know."
More than a dozen people challenged the council incumbents this year -- the most in recent years -- and many have said that's a reflection on how people feel about county politics.
But the anti-incumbency movement in the County Council wasn't as widespread as it seemed, Huffmon said, citing more action of this nature in the state House and Senate races.
"It's not true that people hate the council incumbents; they clearly have a lot of support for them," he said.
Martin said a lot of the residents she talked to wanted change, but not all of them voted Tuesday.
A challenger in the District 2 council race, David McCorkle, said it's always hard to work against an incumbent because his name has been out there for at least the last two years.
"Some vote on popularity instead of the issues or who is best for the job," McCorkle said. "We worked hard. I had been making calls and getting my message out. We were at the Buster Boyd Bridge in 100-degree weather waving Tuesday."
McCorkle, who faces County Councilman Tom Smith in a runoff election June 24, received 33 percent of the vote in the district representing Clover and Lake Wylie. Smith fell about 20 votes shy of winning the Republican primary for the seat outright.
Incumbents such as Smith weren't only relying on their names and reputation to delivery a victory. District 1 representative Paul Lindemann said he worked twice as hard in his campaign this time against former councilman Jeff Updike, who he ousted in 2006. Lindemann beat Updike by more than 240 votes by unofficial counts.
Lindemann also defeated Updike in 2006 after Updike agreed with charging fees to hook up to county water and sewer lines for Fort Mill schools and lobbied for Piedmont Medical Center to build a Fort Mill hospital.
"People remember the Piedmont deal," Lindemann said, referring to his Republican challenger. "And voting for tap fees."
Council Chairman Buddy Motz came the closest to losing his seat, with first-time challenger Alex Haefele coming within about 50 votes of winning the election, according to unofficial counts.
That district, Huffmon said, had the best possibility of going either way after Haefele built a campaign on opposition to expanding the Rock Hill/York County Airport.
Huffmon doesn't count out new faces in the council after November's election. Four seats, two held by first-term councilmen, have opposition on the ballot.
"The same battles making a few races close could come up again," he said. "You can't make general election assumptions of the primaries."