5 seek SC House seat vacated by retiring Rep. Chip Huggins | Columbia News

COLUMBIA — A crowded field is running to fill the seat of retiring state Rep. Chip Huggins.

The Lexington County Republican served for 23 years in the district that covers the fast growing area north of Lake Murray, and parts of Irmo.

Now, five candidates — four Republicans, who will compete in a primary run off June 14, and one Libertarian — are seeking the office.

The Republicans include: Jay Kilmartin, a businessman who owns The Melting Pot restaurant; two Lexington-Richland School District Five board members Rebecca Blackburn Hines and Catherine Huddle; and Christian Stegmaier, a Columbia area attorney.

John Davis, the lone Libertarian, runs a computer security business.

Stegmaier, a Columbia area attorney, ran for office once before seeking the state Senate seat currently held by Democrat Dick Harpootlian. He said the growth around Irmo and Chapin is what drove him to run in the current race.

“We need someone focused on building roads and infrastructure that meet our significant needs,” he said.

Stegmaier also wants to increase funding for South Carolina’s public universities and K-12 education.

Kilmartin, a first-time candidate, calls himself a “liberty-minded” Republican with a pro-business stance.

Other candidates did not immediately return calls from The Post and Courier.

In other Lexington County races, incumbent Micah Caskey faces a primary challenger in District 89, covering most of West Columbia and Cayce, as does Cal Forrest in District 39, which falls south and west of Lake Murray with towns like Gilbert, Batesburg-Leesville and Saluda.

Caskey, an attorney, has held office since 2016, taking over the seat from the influential and long-serving former S.C. House Ethics Committee chairman Kenny Bingham. After defeating West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles in a runoff, Caskey went on to win that year’s general election. 

Caskey is challenged in 2022 by Melanie Shull, a former music teacher and founder of Christian faith magazine Living Real.

Forrest also has served since 2016, defeating the then incumbent Ralph Shealy Kennedy in the primary before going on to win the General Election.

Forrest is challenged by Katie Hall of Saluda, a mother and…