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1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election

The 1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 5, 1974 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. James B. Edwards defeated W. J. Bryan Dorn and became the first Republican since Daniel Henry Chamberlain in 1874 to win a gubernatorial election in South Carolina. It was also the closest gubernatorial election in South Carolina since the disputed election of 1876.

South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1974

← 1970 November 5, 1974 1978 →
  U.S. Secretary of Energy James Edwards of South Carolina.jpg W. J. Bryan Dorn.jpg
Nominee James B. Edwards W.J. Bryan Dorn
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 266,338 248,861
Percentage 50.3% 47.0%

Governor before election

John Carl West

Elected Governor

James B. Edwards

Democratic primaryEdit

The South Carolina Democratic Party held their primary for governor on July 16, 1974 . Charles D. Ravenel emerged as the winner of the runoff election, but the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Ravenel did not meet the five-year residency requirement in the state's constitution.[1] W. J. Bryan Dorn was chosen in a special state convention to be the Democratic candidate in the general election for governor.

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Charles D. Ravenel 107,345 33.6
W.J. Bryan Dorn 105,743 33.1
Earle E. Morris, Jr. 80,292 25.2
Eugene N. Zeigler 11,091 3.5
L. Maurice Bessinger 7,883 2.5
John Bolt Culbertson 4,187 1.3
Milton J. Dukes 2,529 0.8
Democratic Primary Runoff
Candidate Votes % ±%
Charles D. Ravenel 186,985 54.8 +21.2
W.J. Bryan Dorn 154,187 45.2 +12.1

Republican primaryEdit

The South Carolina Republican Party held their primary on July 16, 1974 and the contest pitted state senator James B. Edwards against former Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland. Edwards scored an upset victory in the first Republican primary of the state and earned the right to face Dorn in the general election.

Republican Primary
Candidate Votes %
James B. Edwards 20,177 57.7
William Westmoreland 14,777 42.3

General electionEdit

The general election was held on November 5, 1974 and James B. Edwards defeated W.J. Bryan Dorn in what was a banner year for the Democrats in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Turnout was higher than the previous gubernatorial election because of the increasingly competitive nature of the race between the two parties.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1974
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican James B. Edwards 266,338 50.3 +4.4
Democratic W.J. Bryan Dorn 248,861 47.0 -5.1
Independent Peggy Jennings 8,313 1.6 -0.4
No party Write-Ins 5,528 1.1 +1.1
Majority 17,477 3.3 -2.9
Turnout 529,040 53.0 -1.2
Republican gain from Democratic
1974 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Edwards
  60%-64% won by Edwards
  55%-59% won by Edwards
  50%-54% won by Edwards
  <50% won by Edwards
  50%-54% won by Dorn
  55%-59% won by Dorn
  60%-64% won by Dorn
  65+% won by Dorn

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mordock, Will (23 June 2010). "The saga of Pug Ravenel still resonates in state politics". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  • State Election Commission (1975). South Carolina Election Report 1974. Columbia, South Carolina: The Commission. p. 36.
  • "How Counties Voted". The News and Courier. 7 November 1974. p. 17A.

External linksEdit