S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson addresses reporters May 18 to announce indictments related to a reported drug trafficking operation at a Greenville Mexican restaurant. File/Jessica Holdman/Staff
COLUMBIA — S.C. Republicans handed Attorney General Alan Wilson a fourth term in office, overwhelmingly picking the Lexington Republican over Bluffton attorney Lauren Martel in the June 14 GOP primary contest that largely flew under the radar.
Wilson, 48, faces no Democratic challenger in the November general election, a fact supporters attribute to his popularity with conservatives in the ruby-red Palmetto State.
Wilson’s 2022 campaign was far more relaxed than his 2018 reelection bid, in which a pair of GOP challengers forced him into a runoff by highlighting his ties to a political consultant who became the target of a yearslong Statehouse corruption investigation.
This time around, Wilson shrugged off a little-known challenger to his right. Martel’s only previous political experience was an unsuccessful 2014 run for Beaufort County Council. She raised just over $48,000 during the campaign, a tally dwarfed by Wilson’s $947,000 war chest.
On the campaign trail, Martel alleged Wilson hadn’t gone far enough in waging conservative culture wars, including protecting Confederate monuments from removal.
Martel also claimed Wilson didn’t do enough to defend patients’ medical freedom during the pandemic, though the attorney general did issue an opinion protecting doctors’ right to prescribe COVID-19 treatments of their choice.
Those criticisms failed to stick with mainstream Republicans. Four straight primary victories have proven they appreciate Wilson’s focus on public safety and the rule of law, his habit of joining lawsuits against Democratic presidential administrations and his efforts to combat human trafficking, domestic violence and crimes against children.
Completing a fourth term would make Wilson one of the South Carolina’s longest-serving attorneys general ever. Just two of state’s previous 50 attorneys general lasted longer than 16 years in office.
In another under-the-radar race, Secretary of State Mark Hammond appeared to have fended off Republican challenger Keith Blandford, a Charleston veteran and former Libertarian congressional candidate whose campaign mostly trumpeted unfounded claims of widespread fraud in America’s elections.
Hammond will face Democrat Rosemounda Peggy Butler, a former West Columbia councilwoman, in the general election as he seeks a sixth term leading the office that houses filings for S.C. businesses and charities.
Meanwhile, Republican Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers looked set to defeat two primary challengers, Bill Bledsoe and Bob Rozier, to secure another four years in a job he has held since 2004.
Avery G. Wilks is an investigative reporter based in Columbia. The USC Honors College graduate was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year for his reporting on South Carolina’s nuclear fiasco and abuses within the state’s electric cooperatives.
source: Charleston Post Courier