Hembree defeats Johnson for SC Senate 28 seat

S.C. voters have selected Republican Greg Hembree as their new District 28 state senator.

Hembree, solicitor for Horry and Georgetown counties, received 66.5 percent of the vote, beating Democratic candidate Butch Johnson. Both Hembree and Johnson, a real estate broker from Loris, ran unopposed in the primary election earlier this year.

The Senate seat was left vacant by Sen. Dick Elliott, a Democrat, who served as the 28th District senator since 1993 after serving in the S.C. House of Representatives for 10 years.

“I’m looking forward to serving the residents of District 28,” Hembree said.

Johnson said he will continue to work for the residents of South Carolina through his legal and real estate businesses.

“I’m going to keep working to help people who can’t help themselves,” he said. “And then in four more years down the road I’ll be more prepared for the next time. It’s a win-win either way.”

Hembree said his first order of business as a senator will be to begin forging relationships with state leaders.

“I’ll be working with a large group of people to solve problems, it’s not about any one person,” he said.

He said there is a need for ethics reform and that he hopes to revisit a government restructuring bill that failed this year.

“There’s some good policy in that bill that we really need to look at,” he said.

The government restructuring bill would do away with the budget control board – an entity that he said is antiquated – and adopt a more streamlined, modern approach.

Elliott, who will retire as Horry County’s longest-serving legislator, endorsed Hembree for his seat. Hembree said he was thankful to have Elliott’s support.

“I’ll continue to look to [Elliott] because there’s a wealth of institutional knowledge there,” Hembree said, adding that the senator and his family attended a victory party Hembree held at The Surf Golf & Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday night.

Hembree was elected solicitor in November 1998. Before that election, Hembree worked as the North Myrtle Beach city attorney.

District 28 includes Horry and Dillon counties.