At least 10 candidates seeking Senate 42 seat

At least 10 people, including seven Democrats, are running for the state Senate seat formerly held by Robert Ford.

Key dates

July 13: Deadline to register to vote in the Democratic District 42 Senate primary.

Aug. 10: The Libertarian Party holds a convention to choose between its two nominees.

Aug. 13: Democrats go to the polls to vote in their seven-way race. A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of this vote to win outright.

Aug. 27: If no candidate received 50 percent, then Democratic voters will return to the polls to choose between the top two.

Oct. 1: A special election is held.

The Democratic field includes a mix of newcomers and more experienced politicians, and it’s unlikely one of them will be able to get enough votes to win outright on Aug. 13, county party Chairman Richard Hricik said.

But it’s likely one of them will ultimately win: The Senate district, which stretches from downtown Charleston to southern Dorchester County, is currently 63 percent black and hasn’t elected a Republican in the modern era.

Filing closed Monday, and the last Democrats to join the race included political newcomer John M. Edwards and Bob Thompson, a self-employed contractor who ran two years ago for Charleston City Council but lost against incumbent Councilman James Lewis.

They face former Charleston Councilman Maurice Washington, Charleston lawyers Emmanuel Ferguson and Marlon Kimpson, as well as businesswoman Margaret Rush and Herbert S. Fielding, whose father held the Senate seat for two terms.

Ford, a Democrat, was elected after Sen. Herbert U. Fielding retired in 1992 and held the seat until he resigned in May. The Senate Ethics Committee found Ford had violated multiple campaign finance laws.

Ford has said he is backing Washington, but one of Ford’s political allies, state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, announced Monday he was backing Kimpson.

Many thought Gilliard would be a front-runner, but he lives just outside the district. Gilliard applauded Kimpson for standing up for people fighting corporations and for kids whose civil rights were violated by police and school officials at Stratford High School, a reference to a controversial 2003 police raid there.

Meanwhile, members of the Libertarian Party will meet on Aug. 10 to choose between Rodney Travis, a maintenance worker from North Charleston, and Alex Thornton, a West Ashley photographer.

Charleston County Libertarian Party Chairman Stewart Flood said Monday that several Democratic candidates incorrectly filed their statements of economic interest — the ethics form that tripped up more than 200 candidates across South Carolina last year. But Hricik said all Democrats complied with the law.

Republican Billy Shuman, a real estate agent who was the first to file for the seat, has no primary opposition.

Shuman will face the eventual Democratic and Libertarian winners in a special election on Oct. 1.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.

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