Jones wins SC Hose seat; a Laurens County Council seat will be vacant
Stewart Jones has defeated Garrett McDaniel, 1,932 - 1,490, to win the vacant SC House District 14 seat.
Jones, a Republican, is a member of the Laurens County Council - a special election will be called for his seat. McDaniel, a Democrat, also is a member of the Laurens County Council. Both men were at the Hillcrest Square Administrative Wing tonight as the County Council conducted its regular every-other-week meeting, even as votes were being tallied in their election. After the meeting, Jones met supporters at Romas, and McDaniel met supporters across the downtown Laurens Square at the county museum's Witherspoon Building.
Voter turn out was 14.38% (3,753 votes cast out of 26,096 registered voters). District 14 includes parts of Laurens and Greenwood Counties, but not Clinton. The special election was called for when Mike Pitts resigned; he thought he was getting an executive directorship with a state conservation agency, but withdrew after questioning by former colleagues during his confirmation process. Pitts said going through the confirmation was detrimental to his health.
Jones is a Liberty Republican, a Rand Paul (junior US Senator from Kentucky) and Ron Paul supporter, and a strict limited government proponent. He opposes tax increases, and on county council voted against the council placing a new 1-cent Capital Projects Sales Tax on the ballot for November 2020. Jones said he could support the measure if the SC General Assembly passes a measure to lower the state sales tax. A majority of council voted against his motion to identify Laurens County as a "gun sanctuary", prohibiting county officials from cooperating with any federal government measure to restrict gun or ammo ownership, if one ever was placed into effect.
Campaigning since December, Jones won the Republican primary over a number of opponents; McDaniel had one opponent in the Democratic Primary. They appeared together at a sit-down-and-talk event at The Coffee Roost in Laurens, but the campaign was mostly yard signs, phone calls and shoe leather. Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan, of Laurens, endorsed Jones. Stewart Jones is the son of Valerie Jones, a Clinton High School English teacher and former District 56 Teacher of the Year.
McDaniel is the son of the late Ed McDaniel, a Laurens County Council member, and at tonight's council meeting, he nominated John Carter, the former mayor of Gray Court, for the Henry Laurens Award, the county's highest honor for public service. The full council accepted the recommendation, and an award to Carter will be presented in May.
Jennifer Garrett, of Laurens, has announced for Jones' District 4 Laurens County Council seat. That election date will be set later by the Laurens County Registration & Elections Commission.