Putnam is a Republican from Piedmont who has served in the South Carolina House of Representatives since 2011
Putnam said Tuesday that he plans to formally announce his candidacy next week.The 28-year-old Republican from Piedmont has served in the state House of Representatives since 2011.
“This is something that we have been considering for the past two years,” Putnam said.
Mark Hammond, 53, who was elected as South Carolina’s 41st secretary of state in 2002, said Tuesday that he plans to seek a fifth term. He and Putnam will meet in the June 2018 GOP primary.
The secretary of state’s office handles an array of business filings. It also oversees charities and raffles in South Carolina.
Putnam said he believes that “the time has come for new leadership” in the office.
“Even the best people can get stagnant,” he said. “I think the secretary of state is an underutilized office with a great amount of potential.”
If elected, he said he would serve as an advocate for the state’s business community and also work to increase the visibility of the secretary of state’s office.
“I want everyone in the state to know how the office can serve them,” he said.
Hammond said he runs “one of the best secretary of state’s offices in the nation” that plays a key role in promoting economic development in South Carolina.
“We are business friendly and customer friendly,” he said.
Hammond said his office has received national attention for cracking down on “sham charities.”
“I have never viewed this office as a stepping stone,” Hammond said.
After earning a master’s degree in education from Clemson University in 1988, Hammond worked as a criminal investigator for the 7th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He was elected as Spartanburg County’s clerk of courts in 1996.
As secretary of state, Hammond has not faced a primary challenger since 2006. He received about 60 percent of the votes against Democratic opponents in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Putnam became the youngest member of the South Carolina General Assembly when he won a special election for the House District 10 seat in 2011 after the resignation of former state Rep. Dan Cooper. Putnam defeated Hamp Johnson in a 2012 GOP primary and ran unopposed in 2014. He received 81 percent of the votes in defeating Democrat Anna Brown last year.
Since taking office, Putnam has won passage of bills to improve the state’s foster-care system, increase access to Epipen medications that are used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions and require South Carolina’s public universities to publicly report hazing-related incidents.
Putnam, a North Greenville University graduate who works as a landscape supervisor, would see a significant salary increase if he becomes secretary of state. As a House member, he is paid $10,400 annually with $12,000 for district-related expenses. Hammond currently earns a yearly salary of $92,000.