FORT MILL -- Optometrist Deborah Long trounced Republican activist Bruce Miller in the S.C. House District 45 race in Tuesday's primary, while Democrat Fred Thomas managed to avoid a run off, pulling in more than 50 percent of the overall vote in both York and Lancaster counties over Donald Huffman and Tony Starnes.
Long held sway with voters, scoring a 9-1 margin of victory in York County, and more than a 2-1 margin in Lancaster County.
"We're happy with the results," Long said Tuesday night. "I'm honored the people of the district selected me to run for office in November."
Long attributed her success to getting out in the community to speak with voters face to face. Running Fort Mill Vision Center for the past 20 years and making personal connections with many voters in the district probably helped too, she said.
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Thomas managed close to 60 percent of the vote in Lancaster County precincts, and slightly less than 50 percent in the York County precincts.
Thomas ran on his experience, which includes six years on the Lancaster County Council, a stint as chief page for House Rep. Tom Magnum and serving as ombudsman for the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.
"The people of Lancaster and York counties put me over the top," Thomas said. "I ran on my experience, and obviously, the voters agreed."
Thomas and Long pledged Tuesday to run "model campaigns" that focus on issues and not personal attacks. They hope to inspire other candidates to do the same.
"You can state your issue and, if it differs from your opponent, focus on the issue," Thomas said.
The House District 45 seat covers northeast York County and northern Lancaster County. Members of the state House serve two-year terms and receive a $10,400 annual salary.