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Byron Gipson wins 5th Circuit Solicitor race to become Columbia’s prosecutor

Gipson topped John Meadors 72 to 28 percent in Tuesday's results.
Credit: Provided
Byron Gipson

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – Byron Gipson will be the next prosecutor for Richland and Kershaw Counties, replacing the previous office holder who was brought down by claims of misconduct.

Gipson topped John Meadors 72 to 28 percent in Tuesday’s results.

Gipson is a defense attorney in the Columbia area who was seeking public office for the first time.

Meadors served for decades as a prosecutor in the 5th Circuit office.

RESULTS: Full race results from the 2018 midterm elections in South Carolina

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The solicitor is the chief prosecutor for all criminal cases in the county. The race was unusual in that Meadors was a petition candidate, rather than representing a party. He made the decision to enter the race after the filing deadline for both parties, but was able to secure the required signatures to get on the ballot.

The race drew enough attention that both candidates aired television ads in an effort to appeal to voters.

Since 2011, the seat had been held by Dan Johnson. After being elected in 2010, he didn’t face serious opposition. Initially, Johnson faced no primary opponent this time around. But earlier this year, an online watchdog group called PAPR published a report question the spending practices of Johnson's office.

That ultimately led to an FBI and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigation. The results of those probes led to federal and state criminal charges being filed against Johnson for alleging that he used public money from his office for person use.

Previous Coverage: Gov. Henry McMaster suspends Solicitor Dan Johnson amid embezzlement indictment

Johnson’s former director of communications for the office pleaded guilty to the charges facing her related to the case. Johnson has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty.