A Republican state senator in South Carolina known for championing ethics reform legislation has gone down in an upset primary election here.
Mike Rose, a close follower of the State Integrity Investigation — which gave South Carolina an F — had planned to introduce a series of reform measures based on the report next year.
That won't happen.
Earlier this week, challenger Sean Bennett, 44, roundly beat Rose, of Summerville, with a grassroots campaign that raised $17,000, compared to the $60,000 that Rose, a 64-year-old former Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer, had in his coffers.
It will be the first time Bennett, a financial planner, has held elected office. He won with 60 percent of the vote. No Democrat has filed to run in the general election held in November.
The defeated Rose served in South Carolina's Senate from 1988 to 1996. After more than a decade out of office, he ran again in 2008 and has served since then.
Months ago, the state's Republican treasurer, Curtis Loftis, was eating lunch with Rose when John Crangle, who runs South Carolina’s state's chapter of Common Cause, approached the table.
“You'll never see a piece of ethics legislation without his name on it,” Crangle told Loftis, gesturing to Rose.
Crangle was the only lobbyist for South Carolina's last ethics overhaul bill, which passed in 1991.
Ethics issues in South Carolina government may have reached a new tipping point.
The state's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, is the subject of an investigation by a legislative ethics panel that is looking into whether she illegally lobbied as a legislator.