Fanning unseats Coleman in Senate 17 Democratic runoff

State Sen. Creighton Coleman, left, and Mike Fanning faced off in a Democratic primary runoff Tuesday in Senate District 17.
State Sen. Creighton Coleman, left, and Mike Fanning faced off in a Democratic primary runoff Tuesday in Senate District 17.

Challenger Mike Fanning of Great Falls narrowly defeated incumbent state Sen. Creighton Coleman of Winnsboro in Tuesday’s Democratic runoff for Senate District 17, according to unofficial results.

With all three counties in the district – York, Chester and Fairfield – reporting, Fanning collected 4,674 votes, or about 56 percent, compared to 3,635 votes, or 44 percent for Coleman, according to results posted on SCvotes.org.

The runoff winner will face Republican Mark Palmer of York in November.

District 17 includes parts of Chester, Fairfield and York counties.

Fanning and Coleman could not be reached late Tuesday, after results were posted.

In the June 14 primary, neither candidate garnered enough votes to secure the Democratic nomination. Fanning finished ahead in York County precincts, including the city of York and Rock Hill’s south side, but behind in Chester and Fairfield counties. Coleman was just shy of the 50 percent needed for the Democratic nomination.

Fanning, director of the Olde English Consortium, had said winning the runoff was about getting people out to vote. He said he was counting on his campaign’s grass-roots efforts to carry him through the runoff.

Fanning has argued much of the Senate district has been “forgotten” compared with other parts of the state around it that are growing.

“Somebody needs to be fighting for the southern side of Rock Hill and Chester, and the rest of the district that tends to be the forgotten part,” he said.

Fanning says he talks about education, taxes, roads and reform with voters, but he said one thing voters are “hungry for” is a relationship with their lawmakers.

“That’s what seems to be lacking in general,” he said.

Coleman, an attorney who was first elected to the state Senate seat in 2008, touted his experience and his record serving in Columbia for the last eight years.

Coleman had argued that job creation and roads are key issues with District 17 voters.

Coleman said he supports raising the state’s gas tax to pay for road repairs. He expressed satisfaction that the General Assembly passed a roads bill but noted “it’s not what it should be.”

“Senate District 17 is very similar in a lot of ways,” he said. “Fairfield is having a tough time, Chester has been having a tough time but is starting to scratch and claw. We’ve got a good bit of economic development going on in Chester. Rock Hill is doing well, the city of York is doing well but could be doing better.”

Martin loses Senate seat

South Carolina Republican Sen. Larry Martin has lost his re-election bid, ending a 38-year legislative career.

The chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee was defeated in Tuesday’s primary runoff by former state Rep. Rex Rice.

Pickens County voters first elected Martin to the state House in 1978, then the Senate in 1992. He has led the Judiciary Committee since 2012.

Martin came in first in the four-way primary two weeks ago with 45 percent of the vote, and Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed him last week.

Rice served three terms in the state House before his 2010 unsuccessful run for Congress. He got 33 percent in the voting two weeks ago.

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077