Judge to rule soon on Thurmonds eligibility for District 41 race
Circuit Judge Ernest Kinard said today he will decide by Tuesday whether former Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond may remain as an eligible District 41 Senate candidate.
Wednesday is the deadline for parties to certify their candidates to state and local election officials for the Nov. 6 election.
Kinardís ruling could determine if Republicans will field a candidate this year for the state Senate seat once held by the most powerful Republican in the Statehouse: Glenn McConnell, who had to resign the seat to become lieutenant governor.
Kinard heard two hours worth of arguments today as to whether Thurmond, as a part-time city prosecutor for North Charleston, is a public official and therefore exempt from the S.C. Supreme Courtís ruling saying that nonincumbent candidates this year must have filed a paper copy of their ethics form when they filed for office. The ruling has knocked more than 250 candidates off this yearís ballots.
James Smith, attorney for former Charleston County Democratic Chair George Tempel, said Thurmond was not a public official and should have filed a paper copy of this ethics form. He urged Kinard to rule Thurmond ineligible and not to allow Republicans a chance to reopen their primary to replace him.
Michael Timbes, Thurmondís attorney and law partner, urged Kinard to let Thurmond remain on the Nov. 6 ballot, where he would face off against Democrat and former Charleston City Councilman Paul Tinkler.
ďIt all boils down to one issue: whether the next Senator of District 41 is going to be chosen by democracy or by default,Ē Timbes said.
Kinard, who is set to hear two other Midlands election cases today, said he would rule once he has finished those, likely later today or Tuesday.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.