LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Lexington County's top lawman says he wants to work with a prosecutor he's dealt with for years.
On Wednesday, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon formally endorsed Rick Hubbard, formerly of the state Attorney General's office, in the race for the 11th Circuit Solicitor's post now held by solicitor Donnie Myers.
"I've known Rick for over 22 years and I know that he's the man for the job," Koon said, standing with Hubbard in a joint interview with WIS News 10.
Koon and Hubbard both cited their long history of working together since the 1990s when Hubbard was a deputy solicitor in the 11th Circuit office and Koon was with the Lexington Police Department across the street.
"Our careers are really parallel," Koon exclaimed. "I've seen him go from prosecutor into a leadership role over there and run the day-to-day operations, much like I did for the last eight years of my career at the Lexington Police Department. And I know he's going to do the right thing and be the man for the job."
The two also declared a readiness to move beyond turmoil in their respective offices. Koon was elected after Sheriff James Metts was forced out of office in a corruption scandal that saw him sentenced to a year in prison. Meanwhile, the current 11th Circuit Solicitor Donnie Myers, who has held the position since 1976, announced he will not seek reelection after he was charged with drunk driving following a car accident near his home.
"We experienced in my situation, a great cloud over the agency," recalled Koon. "That started to clean up with interim sheriff [Lewis] McCarty coming in and I picked up where he left off. Now I'm a year into my term and I think we're heading in the right direction."
Hubbard acknowledged a "challenge" in the 11th Circuit but predicted an easier road if he were elected.
For me it's a little bit different because it wasn't so much what happened in the office," Hubbard explained. "As a prosecutor, Donnie Myers leaves a huge shadow. All prosecutors have learned from him through the years on how to work in that courtroom but what happens outside of that courtroom, and his private life, is something only he can handle. What I've done through the years and part of the reason why Donnie trusted me so much, was I was my own man."
One of Hubbard's two opponents for the solicitor post, Candice Lively with the University Of South Carolina School Of Law's Children's Law Center declared herself unsurprised and unfazed by Koon's endorsement of Hubbard.
"I respect his position," she said, explaining that she met with Koon and was told at the time that he would be supporting Hubbard after Hubbard's support for Koon in his campaign for sheriff. "It's a little bit of quid pro quo. But he was very nice and very honest with me and very professional."
Lively said she nonetheless takes a less formal brand of approval from Koon.
"He knows is that I have trained many of his officers in making sure they're better able to handle certain types of cases. Obviously he doesn't think I don't know what I'm doing."
The third candidate in the race, Larry Wedekind, formerly an assistant to the South Carolina Attorney General was not available for comment.