Mark Bennett secured the Republican nomination for state Senate District 17 seat Tuesday, defeating Chester attorney Joanie Winters, according to unofficial election results.
But the Richburg truck driver will have to wait two weeks before he knows which Democrat he'll face in the fall.
Democrats Creighton Coleman and Leah Moody will meet in a runoff June 24 after besting third-place finisher Michael Squirewell in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
The candidates are vying to replace retiring state Sen. Linda Short, D-Chester, in the seat that represents all of Chester and Fairfield counties and parts of York and Union counties.
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"I'm extremely tired, but thankful for all the votes," Bennett, 39, said late Tuesday after securing 58 percent of the vote. "I had a low-key campaign, but the grassroots efforts of my supporters was the difference."
Bennett, best known as the driver of "The Richburg Rocket" at area race tracks, ran as a candidate dissatisfied with state leadership. He said he wants to bring his conservative principles to the General Assembly. Among the issues that concern him are halting abortions and providing tax credits for parents who want to educate their children outside the public school system.
Bennett admitted winning the general election in a heavily Democratic district will be a challenge. But he said it's possible.
"It'll be tough, but I'm gonna keep pluggin' away," he said. "I've gotta keep working. Get name recognition. I'm a common man, with common, Christian values."
Coleman, Moody in runoff
On the Democratic side, Creighton Coleman, a 52-year-old Winnsboro attorney, will take on Rock Hill attorney Leah Moody, 37, in a June 24 runoff.
Coleman won 47 percent of the tally Tuesday, compared to Moody's 37 percent. The pair will try to land Squirewell's 15 percent to secure the Democratic nod.
"I'll hit the ground running tomorrow," Moody said late Tuesday. "It's a new day."
Moody said she'll keep working to add votes to her column by touting her goals of improving education funding, aiding health care and creating jobs.
Coleman, the only candidate in the race who has held an office -- he was a state representative for eight years -- could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
His platform is based on keeping taxes low and being in a good economic position to recruit new industry, he recently told The Herald.