More than 200 candidates across the state are not running in Tuesday’s primary election because of two rulings by the South Carolina Supreme Court in the last five weeks.
In Georgetown County, seven people were disqualified on Thursday: Republicans Mike Andrews, Tom Winslow and C.C. “Bubba” Grimes; and Democrats Darryel Carr, Jacqueline Williams, Jarrod Ownbey and Ben Dunn.
The first ruling, on May 1, upheld a state law that required candidates to file their Statement of Candidacy and Statement of Economic Interest forms at the same time with the same person.
That initial ruling disqualified about 180 candidates, although some people believed at the time that many of the candidates who were certified to be on the ballot should have been disqualified.
Florence County Democrats filed a lawsuit – heard by the Supreme Court on Monday – alleging the Republicans ignored the May 1 ruling and recertified candidates who did not properly file election documents.
The Florence GOP claimed that candidates are “public figures” as soon as they announce their intention to run, therefore do not have to file the paperwork.
The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Florence GOP was wrong, and one justice chided the GOP attorney for “foolish lawyering.”
The Supreme Court directed the Florence election commission, if able, to remove the affected candidates’ names from the ballot and, if not possible, to post the candidates’ names on signs at the polling places to indicate votes cast for those candidates will not be counted.
It also ordered the Florence GOP to pay for the cost of amending the ballots or for the signs for polling places.
Although the Supreme Court ruling only applied to Florence, justices warned that it set a precedent and other counties could choose to ignore it “at their own peril.”
Across the state on Thursday, Republicans, Democrats and election officials were scrambling.
Six Republicans and one Democrat in Charleston County and five Republicans in Anderson County were disqualified.
In Oconee County, 11 Republicans were decertified so the GOP primary was canceled.
Allendale and Clarendon counties also canceled their primaries because all the races were uncontested.
In Georgetown County, disqualified candidates’ names will still appear on Tuesday’s ballot. Votes cast for those candidates will not count.
The Supreme Court ruling does not affect the candidates for the new 7th Congressional District.
By Chris Sokoloski
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