“Anti-incumbent” attitudes cause Upstate political fallout, says expert

GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Less than 10 percent of registered Greenville County voters showed up for Tuesday’s runoff election, but their decisions sent shock waves. Many incumbents, including Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis, were voted out.

Jason Zacher, Vice President of Business Advocacy for the Greenville Chamber watched the fallout, Tuesday night.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, and I think that does feed into the anti-incumbency,” said Zacher.

Four Upstate counties are getting new sheriffs, including Greenville County, where challenger Will Lewis ousted Loftis in a tight race.

“If you vote out an incumbent, you want something to change,” said Zacher.

It would seem voters at home and abroad want to burn down the barn and start over, he said.

“In the last year you’ve seen Trump, Sanders, the British election and now a lot of incumbents here in the state get ousted. I think that the electorate is just angry in general,” said Zacher.

He said voters are angry at the lack of change, pointing toward voter’s fears about security, concerns about crumbling infrastructure and ethics reform. These are all things that he believes led to the unprecedented ousting of political incumbents in the Upstate.

“People are angry at the way government is working right now, or not working as the case may be. If you’re talking about a sheriff’s race and maybe it travels all the way down that if you have the incumbent next to your name, it’s a dangerous year,” said Zacher.

For Greenville County sheriff-elect, Will Lewis, he capitalized on those anti-incumbent attitudes in a runoff with Sheriff Loftis that got down in the mud.

“The county was actually looking to the future. They really wanted to see a change,” he told 7 News, Wednesday.

Inching over Loftis by two percent, Lewis said he’s grateful to be joining the ranks of the new Upstate sheriffs, adding that the people have spoken.

“It’s democracy in action. If people don’t do their job, if elected officials don’t do their job, people are going to vote you out,” said Lewis.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Zacher, who urged a warning to those running in November.

“If you’re an incumbent and you’re on the ballot, you’ve got some work to do,” he said.

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