DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee has switched parties from Democrat to Republican and will run for re-election in 2024, according to a news release.

Hardee’s switch will now make five of the six county-wide elected officials Republicans, according to the release.

“We are excited to welcome J. Todd Hardee to the Republican Party,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in the release. “It’s a confirmation of the increasing strength of the GOP in the Pee Dee and all across South Carolina due to the conservative principles that we represent and a rejection of the liberal radicalization of the Democrat Party. We welcome every conservative to do the same and join us.”

Others, however, like the South Carolina Democratic Party, were not as excited about Hardee’s switch. The group released the following statement on Monday:

“Coroner J. Todd Hardee’s switch to the Republican Party is an insult to the voters of Darlington County who put him in office time and time again as the nominee of the Democratic Party. If by switching parties, county-elected officials believe they will have an easier path to re-election, they have something else coming. Hardee has chosen Donald Trump, Henry McMaster and MAGA Republicans over the voters of Darlington County. This is clearly a play for power at the expense of the families he represents.”

Hardee’s run for re-election is not without competition, as retired South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper Brian Lee is also running for coroner, he announced on Sept. 11.

“After a lot of thoughts and prayers, I believe Darlington County needs a new coroner,” Lee said in the announcement. “The citizens of the county have made it clear we need to change this office and vision.”

Lee is also running as a Republican.

Hardee has been the coroner of Darlington County since 2000, according to the release. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and an associate’s degree in mortuary science.

Caleb is a digital producer at News13. Caleb joined the team in January 2023 after graduating from Liberty University. He is from Northern Virginia. Follow Caleb on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.