Retired Newberry business owner Joe White wins Midlands SC House seat in runoff

·3 min read
Travis Bell

Retired Newberry business owner Joe White won South Carolina’s House District 40 runoff election Tuesday over Tammy Johns, giving the Midlands district new representation for the first time since 2017.

White had about 52% to Johns’ nearly 48% as of late Tuesday, unofficial results showed. More than 3,300 people cast their vote in the runoff for the Midlands House seat.

Neither could be immediately reached for comment.

But on White’s personal Facebook page following the results, White kept it short: “Joe White WINS!”

Johns also put out a short statement on Facebook regarding her defeat.

“Thank you District 40 for ALL the Support! I am honored and humbled by all who voted for me. Thank you again!” Johns said.

No Democrat filed to run in the race, meaning White will face no opposition in November. The district covers Newberry County and part of Lexington County.

The House District 40 race was one of eight races in South Carolina’s primary runoff election.

White’s path to victory started when he and Johns beat out the district’s incumbent, Rick Martin, in the June 14 primary election. White took the majority of the vote with almost 46%, leaving Johns with nearly 31%, but neither got past the 50% threshold, which forced them into a runoff.

Martin only received 23% of the vote, making him the third-highest receiving candidate. More than 4,200 people voted in the primary.

Leading up to the primary election, Martin faced legal issues that eventually jeopardized his seat in Newberry County.

Martin was suspended from the House in December 2021 after a state grand jury indicted him on charges that he used his political office to influence a social services investigation and provided a minor with alcohol. Per practice, former Rep. Jay Lucas, a Darlington Republican and former speaker of the House, suspended him immediately, leaving Newberry County without representation in the lower chamber.

Martin has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has asked for a jury trial. So far, a trial has not been scheduled.

Who is Joe White?

On his campaign website, White referred to himself as a “patriot, a proud veteran, a family man, and a successful small business owner.” His platform is centered on being “pro-life, pro-Constitution, and pro-taxpayer.”

Serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, White was honorably discharged and eventually pursued a bachelor’s degree in public administration, according to his campaign website. He worked for Sears and Beecham Laboratories until he started his own small business, his site said.

He eventually retired in 2017, but came out of retirement his campaign site said to “serve his beloved state.”

White’s campaign focused on nine main priorities in his platform, which included issues such as law enforcement improvements, tax cuts, Second Amendment protections, election integrity and term limits. Facial ID, signature verification for absentee ballots and two-party poll watching are all measures White listed as options he said would improve election integrity.

White also emphasized various actions related to education that he would like to see improved under his term as a state representative. To combat inadequate schooling, or what White calls the “poverty prison” on his campaign website, White pointed to getting children involved in extracurricular groups and churches as potential solutions.

The South Carolina Conservative Future PAC, launched by Upstate businessman John Warren who forced Gov. Henry McMaster to a runoff in 2018, endorsed White ahead of the runoff.

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