Republican candidate for Greenville County sheriff Hobart Lewis has received the endorsements of two former opponents in the lead-up to the Jan. 21 runoff vote, while candidate A.T. “Tommy” Smith is questioning the motivations behind what he calls a “pact.”
Lewis picked up the endorsements of Darius Hall and Robert Whatley, who placed third and fourth, respectively, in the Republican primary special election held on Tuesday Jan. 6.
Lewis, who took home the most votes in the special election, will face off against Smith in a runoff election slated for Jan. 21.
Whoever wins the runoff will go on to face Democrat Paul Guy in the general election on March 10.
At a news conference at County Square to announce the endorsements, Hall cited Lewis’ longstanding presence in Greenville as a deciding factor in his endorsement.
“Lewis has what it takes to address the morale problem with deputies and the trust issues with members of the community,” Hall said.
Whatley, for his part, cited Lewis’ faith as a main factor in his endorsement.
“He’s a good, honorable man with Christian values,” Whatley said.
Lewis’ opponent in the runoff, Smith, has questioned the motivation behind the endorsements, however, noting that during the primary campaign the three would “nod approvingly” at one another during debates and would never offer criticism of one another.
“They even had what amounted to a family picture taken after one debate,” Smith wrote in a Facebook post. “What is it they promised each other if one of them wins? Voters have a right to know.”
Smith has received endorsements from local business leaders, Interim Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown and former Sheriff Steve Loftis.
In an op-ed, retired Marine Col. Mike Stahl also came out to endorse Smith for his “principled leadership.”
“When former Sheriff Steve Loftis introduced me to Tommy Smith and asked me to support him, I was immediately impressed with Tommy’s story and experience,” Stahl writes. “I cannot imagine a more qualified candidate.”
Smith finished behind Lewis in the Jan. 6 special election by 1,389 votes, but neither candidate took home the more than 50 percent needed to secure the win outright, leading to next week’s runoff.
The final tally of votes for the special election were counted as:
Lewis: 11,236 votes, or 37.3 percent of the total.
Smith: 9,847 votes, or 32.7 percent of the total.
Darius Hall: 5,153 votes, or 17.1 percent of the total.
Robert Whatley: 2,684 votes, or 8.9 percent of the total.
Sean Zukowsky: 1,201 votes, or 4 percent of the total.
Overall, 30,129 people voted in the special election, or just under ten percent of the 324,232 registered voters in the county, a low turnout typical of most special elections.