PICKENS COUNTY - With the June primary over, the Pickens County Democratic Party is looking ahead to November, when its candidates will face those just elected in the primary.
"The elections have begun in earnest," said party chairman John Painter. "Let's be honest... Tuesday night was a Republican primary."
Only two Democratic candidates - both seeking to unseat Sen. Lindsay Graham in November - appeared on the ballots in Pickens County, Painter said.
"The two candidates, and I think it was a mistake on their part, choose to do very little campaigning (in Pickens County)" he said.
The party is fielding four candidates this year: U.S. House candidate Jane Dyer, State House candidate Jason Gale, Sheriff candidate Robert Crooks and County Council District 3 candidate Wesley Burbage.
Though only a small percentage of the county's 56,000 registered voters turned out for the primary last week, Painter said he was encouraged by what that means for the November election.
"88 percent of the 56,000 in Pickens County didn't like what they saw on the ballot Tuesday night and chose not to vote," Painter said. "That's the way I look at it."
With eight contested GOP races on the ballot, Painter said he was surprised at the Republican turnout.
"You would think it would have generated more voters," he said. "(There's) voter apathy out there for the Republican Party. I really do that."
Party members need to work to overcome the apathy voters feel toward the Democratic Party
"Our biggest problem as Democrats is not the Republicans," he said. "It's not their numbers, it's not money, it's not the issues. It's the general apathy on our part. It's the lack of seriousness and commitment on the part of those who call ourselves Democrats.
"The Democratic Party needs to appeal to the 42,000 voters who didn't vote at all last week, Painter said.
"We can win elections in Pickens County this year," he said. "I really do believe that."
For Dyer to take Rep. Gresham Barrett's seat in November, she needs to attract 20,000 extra voters in her district and convince 32,000 voters who normally vote Republican to vote for her, Dyer said.
"That's what we need to win," Dyer said. "I think it's very attainable, but it's going to take a lot of hard work. People are ready to hear the other side. I'm very encouraged."
"We have a shot here," he said. "It's our year. We've got to get involved. If we do, we can make a difference."
The Pickens County Democratic Party meets at 8:30 a.m. the second Saturday of every month at the Six Mile Town Hall.