John Edwards, general manager of the Mills House Hotel, has dropped out of the Democratic race for Robert Ford’s former state Senate seat and endorsed Charleston lawyer Marlon Kimpson.

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. 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.

Edwards, a political newcomer, said he was dropping out of the District 42 race for family reasons.

His departure still leaves a six-way primary for the Democratic nomination. That primary will be held on Aug. 13, and July 13 is the deadline for people to register to vote in it.

If no one gets more than 50 percent in that race, then a runoff will be held on Aug. 27. The special election was triggered after Ford resigned in May as the Senate Ethics Committee found he had violated campaign finance laws.

Edwards said, “I feel that — with me out of the race — he (Kimpson) is the best candidate. I spoke with Marlon yesterday and offered my support,” he said.

The other Democrats in the race are lawyer Emmanuel Ferguson, funeral home director Herbert Fielding, businesswoman Margaret Rush, contractor Bob Thompson and former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington.

The Democratic candidates are invited to an informal meet and greet with party faithful on July 18 and to a forum on July 25. The party is expected to announce the times and locations soon.

One sign that the campaign is heating up: Washington issued a press release Friday saying he was campaigning during the Fourth of July holiday. “I understand that sometimes you have to work on a holiday to get the job done,” he said in a statement.

Real estate broker Billy Shuman, a Republican, also is seeking the seat, as are Libertarians Rodney Travis, a maintenance worker from North Charleston, and Alex Thornton, a West Ashley photographer.

The special election is Oct. 1.

District 42 includes parts of these areas: peninsular Charleston, West Ashley, North Charleston and southern Dorchester County.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.