GREENVILLE/CHARLESTON, S.C. — On Tuesday, two openly gay candidates sailed to victory in their respective South Carolina primaries.

Real estate agent James Akers, Jr. won his primary for a seat on the conservative Greenville County Council and Linda Ketner won in her bid to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Henry Brown of the 1st Congressional District.

Akers won 11 of 18 Precincts and avoided a runoff election by capturing 54 percent of the votes. Democratic opponent Rob Hanley was a distant second with 30 percent of the vote. Another opponent, Col. Barry Matthews, finished third with 15 percent. Akers won three precincts with 78% of the vote or higher — 100% in Greenville 19, 78% in Mauldin 3 and 82% in Greenbriar, a combined 250 votes to his opponents combined 62 votes.

“I was confident going into the election, though I think everyone assumed there would be a runoff. I am pleased, however, that my message resonated with so many voters and I’m astonished at the margin of victory” Akers said.

Ketner captured 65 percent of the vote against her opponent Ben Frazier, a perennial office-seeker whose loss Tuesday marks his 18th unsuccessful bid for office.

The openly lesbian, Food Lion grocery store heiress has been endorsed by numerous South Carolina leaders, including former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges, S.C. Legislative Black Caucus Chair Leon Howard, S.C. Senate Minority Leader John Land, Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, S.C. Federation of College Democrats President Jamarr Brown and former S.C. Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin.

“Very few in this state have the record of achievement that Linda Ketner has with the African-American community,” Hodges said. “She’s always been there for us, now it’s time we are there for her. I enthusiastically endorse Linda Ketner to be the next Congresswoman from the first district of South Carolina.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.