Horry County voters returned two incumbent county councilmen to office Tuesday night, but the open District 5 seat will likely be decided in a runoff in two weeks.
Incumbents Al Allen, District 11, and Carl Schwartzkopf, District 8, each won their contested Republican primaries handily.
Allen, who was being challenged by former Horry County deputy auditor U.A. Johnson, won with 55.7 percent of the vote with 115 of 118 precincts reporting as of press time in the district that covers Aynor, Galivants Ferry and portions of unincorporated west county.
Schwartzkopf won his race against political newcomer John Abercrombie 58.94 percent to 41.06 percent.
In District 5 voters threw their support to Paul Price, a former state trooper who started his political career over the May motorcycle rallies, and to Bill McKown, former Surfside Beach Town Councilman, and current chairman of the Horry County Airport Advisory Committee. With 115 of 118 precincts reporting and before absentee votes were counted, Price led with almost 47 percent of the vote. McKown was in second with about 39 percent.
The third candidate for the open seat, Dick Withington, who ran earlier this year as a Democrat for the U.S. 1st Congressional District seat left open by Rep. Henry Brown's retirement announcement, received 14.6 percent of the votes.
The seat was left open when current District 5 Councilman Howard Barnard announced his intention to run for council chairman in January. Barnard lost his bid for the seat Tuesday night and will finish out his term through January before leaving council.
Councilman Allen spent most of election night watching returns at the elections headquarters at the county building. He will start his second four-year term on council in January.
"It feels good to win. I feel humbled that the people of District 11 took the time to go out and vote and offer me their support," Allen said. "I have learned a lot in this first term that will help me tremendously in the second term."
Opponent Johnson said Tuesday night he was disappointed, but felt he had run a good campaign. Johnson had a large hurdle to overcome because of an indictment for passing on fraudulent documents in 1989 while he was working as assistant county auditor. He was pardoned this fall by Gov. Mark Sanford.
"I really didn't lose. I met a lot of people who I will be friends with for the rest of my life," he said.
In District 8, Schwartzkopf visited several polling places throughout the day to check on voter turnout, but did not campaign. At the close of polls, he said he went to the polling places in his district to check the results on the doors before going to the County Court House to see the official results.
"I did what I always do, I walked down streets, handed out fliers, put up [signs]," he said. "I feel good."
Abercrombie said he was also disappointed that voters had not chosen his vision for the county, but he felt like he had done well for a first-time candidate.
"I feel pretty good for a first time candidate," he said. "I want to congratulate Mr. Schwartzkopf and I'm still eager to serve in some capacity."
In District 5, the numbers were close for the top two candidates. McKown could not be reached for comment. Price, who floated between different campaign locations to congratulate and console other candidates said he was excited about his lead in the race.
"I feel fantastic. I'm going to keep working hard for the runoff if that's what it comes to," he said.
The winners will take office in January because no Democrats filed to challenge them in the November General election. If the numbers stay the same for the District 5 race, a runoff would be held June 22.