Republican Shannon Riley trounced petition candidate Bob Merritt on Tuesday in the race for state House of Representatives in District 13.
Riley unofficially garnered 11,680 votes (78.80 percent) compared to 3,078 votes (20.77 percent) for Merritt. The totals are set to be certified Thursday at Park Plaza
All of S.C. House District 13 is in Greenwood County.
Riley, of Hodges, is a graduate of Greenwood High School and Erskine College. He is a small businessman, and cattle and timber farmer. He has been a state constable for many years.
This was Riley's first time running for public office.
On Tuesday night, the Republican said he was thrilled to secure the District 13 seat.
"I'm excited, and I'm very pleased, obviously, with the results," Riley said. "I'm just thinking about all the folks who supported me over the last year. I'm thinking about how I couldn't have done it without them. I'm looking forward to serving the constituents of House District 13."
Riley said he was confident he could win the District 13 race, even though he couldn't have predicted a resounding 58-point victory.
"I just feel like we got out there early and started early and worked hard for the past year," Riley said. "I tried to make it a point to get out and meet everybody that we could and listen to their concerns and make people understand my motivation for running. That was, and is, to serve them and listen to their concerns. I'd like to think that paid off for us."
Merritt, of Greenwood, is an attorney, though he also has a background in teaching, coaching and law enforcement. He also is no stranger to politics, as he was former longtime state Sen. John Drummond's chief of staff for many years.
Merritt initially filed for the District 13 seat as a Democrat. However, after getting swept up in the statement of economic interest filing ballot controversy this summer, he switched to a petition candidacy.
Merritt said it was tough running as a petition candidate.
"It's been a long and often frustrating campaign," Merritt said. "Petition candidates did not appear to be doing very well, at all. I've met a lot of really good people who really love our country, our state and our community. The only regret I have is never having the opportunity to actually meet Mr. Riley and actually talk about the issues as gentlemen. I said it during the campaign and I will say it again: I ran as an independent and it feels good.
"I know there are more independents out there just like me, who put country before a party. I believe we will be hearing from them in the future. I wish (Riley) the best in Columbia, knowing he has some big shoes to fill in replacing (current District 13 state Rep.) Gene Pinson."