Confusion rippling in Charleston’s Senate 42 race in wake of Voting Rights Act ruling
Former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington has made three trips this week to file for the state Senate District 42 seat formerly held by Robert Ford — with no luck so far.
How did Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion affect local and state politics and elections? What we know about what’s next.
Washington will try for a fourth time today.
“I can actually use the exercise,” he joked.
His political odyssey was shaped by a highly unlikely combination of his bipartisan political past, this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the S.C. attorney general, a new state law and local and state elections officials.
Washington’s winding week has gone something like this:
On Monday, Washington tried to file with Charleston County Democratic Chairman Richard Hricik, but Hricik told him that if Washington filed as a Democrat, Hricik would release information about how Washington has acted at times as a Republican.
Washington delayed his filing a day to talk things over with this wife.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, the part that required the U.S. Department of Justice to review any proposed changes to election laws in nine states, including South Carolina, and dozens of smaller jurisdictions.
State and local election officials talked with the S.C. Attorney General’s Office and believed that meant that the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration — and not Hricik — would take over filing in accordance with a new state law.
On Wednesday, Washington and Herbert S. Fielding filed with the county election board, as did two other Democratic candidates, Marlon Kimpson and Margaret Rush, who previously filed with Hricik.
On Thursday, Charleston County elections director Joe Debney learned that the Attorney General’s Office made a slight error. The new state law won’t take effect until Monday, meaning that parties will continue to receive candidate filings in the District 42 race after all.
Washington went to Debney’s office in North Charleston, picked up his check and filing paperwork and drove to Hricik’s Mount Pleasant office, but he wasn’t there.
“I was at the dentist,” Hricik said later. “I had told him previously you have to make an appointment. I have a life, and I’m a busy guy.”
Washington plans to go to Hricik’s office again today, with high hopes.
“This is so crazy — You have to be here. No you have to be here. No you have to be here,” Hricik said. “I will say this: Everybody is trying very hard to do the right thing. This is just a comic book of errors.”
Others who already have filed include Democrat Emmanuel Ferguson and Republican Billy Shuman.
The filing closes at noon Monday. The primaries will be held Aug. 13, and the special election will be Oct. 1.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.