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It’s Burns vs. Connell for GOP KCC chair nod as Hartis pulls out of race

Posted: June 12, 2014 5:12 p.m.
Updated: June 13, 2014 5:00 a.m.
C-I file photos/

Julian Burns (left) will face Ben Connell in a runoff for Kershaw County Council chairman after Gene Hartis, who actually placed second in Tuesday's primary, chose to drop out of the race.


Even though Gene Hartis came in second, Julian Burns will face third-place finisher Ben Connell for a runoff on June 24 for the Republican nomination for Kershaw County Council chairman.

Hartis announced Thursday afternoon that he was withdrawing from the race, automatically giving Connell the chance to run against Burns a second time.

Burns received 4,452 votes in Tuesday’s Republican primary, followed by Hartis with an even 3,000, and Connell with 2,783. In a three-person race, the winner must garner more than 50 percent of the vote. Burns only received 43.5 percent.

Hartis said he wanted to be fair to the other candidates and to the voters.

“I’ll not be seeking the chair in the runoff. The numbers and the finances were not there to run an efficient race for the chairman’s seat,” Hartis said. “I enjoyed it and will still be at county council meetings.”

State law says if the second place finisher withdraws from a runoff race, the third place finisher can move into the runoff. Connell announced his intention to do so.

“I understand that Judge Gene Hartis has decided to withdraw from the runoff for Chairman of Kershaw County Council. Since Judge Hartis and I cumulatively garnered over 56 percent of the vote, it is a great honor to continue the runoff for chairman to make sure that such a large portion of Kershaw County voters have a chance to voice their opinion on June 24,” Connell said in a written statement. “I believe that if we focus on improving jobs, education and recreation in Kershaw County, we will improve our quality of life and make Kershaw County an even more attractive place to work and raise a family. Please feel free to contact me if you have any ideas you would like to share about how we can continue to improve Kershaw County.”

“We congratulate Mr. Hartis on a campaign well done and for his service to Kershaw County. We wish him the best,” Burns said. “Right now, we’re focused on securing the nomination for Kershaw County Council Chairman in the runoff election on June 24.”

The winner of the June 24 runoff will face Democrat and former Councilman Bobby Gary in November’s general election.

Tom Gardner won the Republican nomination to keep his District 6 seat on the county council, defeating challenger Howard Buckholtz. Gardner received 1,149 votes to Buckholz’s 731.

“I’m very pleased. We’re very happy to get to go to the general election in November and serve my district four more years. We worked it pretty hard and are very thankful for everybody who helped out and all who voted,” Gardner said. “There’s some things hopefully we can push forward. We’ve freed up some money to help Central Carolina Technical College with their expansion. We’ve got some things in recreation we’d like to do and economic development is the lifeblood of the county and if I can get re-elected those are key issues I’d want to see done.”

Gardner will face Democrat Thomas Gordon in November.

One Republican who will get to take office come January without facing any Democratic opposition in November is Jill Catoe. With no Democratic challengers, Catoe’s defeat of fellow Republican Heather Ives-Dykes means she has won that office. Catoe earned 5,783 votes to Ives-Dykes’ 4,371.

“It was nice, it was really great,” Catoe said about winning. “I appreciate everyone who did everything for me.”

She said it was also nice to learn she wouldn’t have to campaign again this year.

“I was just trying to get through this first part, but then realized (Tuesday night), that’s it. I really like that. Running for office is different for me. I never did it before and had to learn everything along the way,” Catoe said.

Republican Debbie Branham will face Democrat David Reuwer in November in the Kershaw County Probate Judge’s race after she defeated Ned Towell. She said she was “certainly” pleased with the election results, defeating Towell by 7,386 votes to 2,832.

“I’m ready to rest for a little bit,” Branham said. “I am really humbled by those numbers. By 5 o’clock (Tuesday), there was not a dry piece of clothing on me. I just said, ‘Praise the Lord, give me 51 percent,’ and when the numbers started coming in, I knew I was blessed.”

Branham says she will “chill” for the rest of the month, but then gear back up to run against Reuwer.

“You can’t totally relax from it,” she said.



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