FLORENCE, S.C. — Democrat Robert Williams is running twice this spring. He is running to keep his seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and he is running for the Seventh Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Tom Rice in the upcoming elections.
Florence County Election Commission Executive Director David Alford and Chris Whitmire, director of public information and training at South Carolina Election Commission, confirmed that Williams had filed paperwork to compete in both races.
“It’s just like when you’re looking for a job, you’re not going to give up what you have until you have something else,” Williams said. “It’s just like that with me. I am not going to give up my current job until I have something else.”
Williams, a business development consultant, has served in the state House of Representatives since 2007. He represents House District 62, which includes a portion of eastern Darlington County and two portions of western Florence County.
In the race for the Congressional seat, Williams' opponents so far in the June 12 primary election are fellow Democrats Bruce Fisher, Bill Hopkins and Mal Hyman. Should he win in the primary, Williams would face off in November against the winner of the Republican primary: either Rice or Larry Hammond.
Rice, a CPA and lawyer from Myrtle Beach, has represented South Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District since 2012, when he defeated several challengers in the Republican primary, won a run-off election against Andre Bauer and then won the general election over Democrat Gloria Tinubu.
As of Saturday morning, no one has filed to run against Williams in the state race.
Nothing prohibits a person from running for multiple offices in the same election in South Carolina.
Whitmire added that there is some precedent of people running for multiple positions in previous elections. He estimated that if he were to look at previous elections, in nearly every one, he would find a candidate running for more than one office somewhere in South Carolina.
However, Section 3 of Article VI of the South Carolina Constitution prohibits the holding of multiple offices, so if Williams were to win both elections, he would be forced to choose which office he wants.
Williams said if he were to win both elections, he would choose the Congressional seat.
If he wins and chooses the Congressional seat, a special election would be called by the S.C. house speaker. The current house speaker is Hartsville Republican Jay Lucas, who is running for re-election. Lucas does not yet face any competition for his District 65 seat.
The filing deadline for primary elections is Friday.
Whitmire estimated the special election process would take approximately 20 weeks to allow for a filing period, primaries and the general election. The special election would be governed by Section 7-13-190 of the South Carolina Code.