MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – As voters get ready to return to the polls for several primary runoffs, one race has gained a lot of attention in Horry County.
If you’ve been in the county, especially in the last two weeks, you’ve probably seen or heard the ads in one state Senate primary on the Republican side. Incumbent Sen. Luke Rankin is being challenged by John Gallman for district 33, which makes up most of Myrtle Beach, Carolina Forest and Conway.
The vitriol in ads and other places has been unusual for a state Senate race, but Sen. Rankin and Gallman are finishing up a vicious campaign.
“I’ve got a record that you can actually see in the Senate journal,” Sen. Rankin said.
Sen. Rankin was first in the vote on June 9, defeating Gallman by 1,030 votes (41.37% to 33.81%). Carter Smith was eliminated after finishing in third with 24.82% of the vote.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary runoff will run unopposed in November.
“They’re ready for change and they showed us that by voting 60% against the 28-year incumbent of their own party,” said Gallman.
The race has become a clash between a high-ranking member in the state Senate and someone who says he has a new perspective.
“Now more than ever, when we’re struggling with how to rebuild our economy, how to get Horry County, its employers, its employees back, we’re going to need a lot of help,” said Sen. Rankin. “A freshman senator is not going to be able to do that.”
“We have someone who has been in office for 28 years and we still don’t have pro-life legislation, who is the chair of the Senate judiciary committee and who has obstructed the personhood bill,” Gallman said.
Sen. Rankin says the ads against him calling his positions “liberal” are misleading and accused the group behind them of using at least $1 million in what he calls out-of-state dark money.
“Not building him up, but tearing me down,” Sen. Rankin said.
Ads by Sen. Rankin’s campaign point to an accusation of domestic violence against Gallman. The challenger says two separate magistrate judges threw out the claim.
Gallman also says the ads referencing something he was never charged with are distracting from the issues.
“People want to hear how we’re going to protect the Second Amendment,” he said. “People want to know how we’re going to protect the employees at Santee Cooper.”
Sen. Rankin has been in the state Senate since 1993.