Murdaugh lawyer Harpootlian loses Dem primary in South Carolina race

A longtime fixture in the South Carolina Democratic Party and the former lawyer for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh was defeated in a primary for state senator on Tuesday night.

Dick Harpootlian, who has served as a Democrat in the South Carolina state Senate since 2018, was defeated by primary opponent Russell Ott in a narrow race, The Post and Courier reported.

Ott, a state representative from South Carolina’s 93rd district, brought in 51% of the vote, compared to Harpootlian’s 49%, and is expected to avoid an automatic recount, although Harpootlian could pay for one.

“We just did something a lot of people didn’t think we were going to be able to do,” Ott told his supporters gathered on election night. “We talked to everyone, and I think that’s what the razor-thin difference in this race was, because we put in the hard work.”


Alex Murdaugh, left, confers with defense attorney Dick Harpootlian during day 25 of Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Jeff Blake/The State/Pool)

Harpootlian, who served as chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 2011 to 2013, delivered a press conference on Wednesday morning announcing he was conceding to Ott and congratulating him on his victory.

Harpootlian, 75, became a national figure in recent years after decades in South Carolina politics when he represented attorney Alex Murdaugh in a double murder trial where Murdaugh was eventually convicted of killing his wife and son.


Alex Murdaugh, left, speaks with defense attorney Dick Harpootlian during Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (Jeff Blake/The State/Pool)

Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison in 2023.

Harpootlian, who is married to Jamie Harpootlian, a Biden-appointed ambassador to Slovenia, has said he truly believes that Murdaugh did not kill his wife and son. In 2018, Harpootlian’s campaign released an ad narrated by now-President Biden saying Harpootlian was his “good friend” and that he had known him for a “long time.”

The ad, which included several framed photographs of Biden and Harpootlian together, went on to say, “[Harpootlian] is a fighter who stops at nothing to get things done and make South Carolina a much better place.”

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian, right, and Defense attorney Jim Griffin speak after their client Alex Murdaugh is found guilty on all counts for the murder of his wife and son at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool)

“I’ve represented many, many, many guilty people,” he told the audience at CrimeCon last year. “A number of them have been acquitted and that’s great. A number of them have been convicted and that’s OK. I did the best I could. I’ve never had an innocent client convicted except for this one for 50 years.”

Ott publicly criticized Harpootlian, who was not an incumbent despite being a sitting state senator due to his district being moved, for agreeing to defend the disgraced lawyer.

Andrew Mark Miller is a reporter at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected].

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