HICKS COLUMN: Columbia, we have a problem
Let's be clear: Paul Thurmond didn't get special treatment in Circuit Court last week — the Republicans did.
Judge Ernest Kinard ruled exactly as GOP officials privately feared, that Thurmond is another victim of ballotgate.
He did not jump through the proper hoops when filing his statement of economic interest, and the judge didn't consider a part-time prosecutor a “public official” exempt from the needlessly complex law.
But Kinard threw a wrench in the works when he said the GOP could hold a quickie primary to get a new nominee for state Senate District 41.
Yet the Election Commission has made it clear that special primaries can be held only if a party's nominee dies, withdraws or is disqualified for not living in the district, not being old enough or not being a citizen.
If the sole candidate in a primary is declared ineligible, it's as if the party didn't put up a nominee. But Kinard chose to give Republicans a pass no one else has gotten.
If the Democrats had been given a do-over, you can bet the Republicans would have shouted “judicial activists” at the top of their lungs.
The good news is that all this has gotten so ridiculous it's going to be fixed — quick.
In Legislature's court
South Carolina has seen more than 250 candidates kicked off the ballot because lawmakers recently changed a law to file statements of economic interest online — but without changing the wording for filing paper copies.
It was a mistake, an oversight. But the state Supreme Court ruled that candidates had to follow the letter of the law and file both simultaneously. A lot of them, innocently enough, didn't do that.
The results have been comical. Peggy Moseley lost her re-election bid, and tried to use the law to get her opponent disqualified (she failed). County Councilwoman Colleen Condon's candidacy was challenged on the same thing.
We all know how well it works out when people try to win elections in the courts.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell says the Supreme Court made a bad decision, and it must be fixed.
“I think the Legislature must absolutely clarify this law,” he said. “The right to run for office is fundamental to America.”
He's absolutely right.
There is little doubt the Republicans got shafted over District 41. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell had held that seat since Reagan was president, so they probably would win it back.
But if the state Supreme Court doesn't overrule Kinard, it will open the door for a lot of other candidates to ask for the same treatment.
And while that might actually be OK, given the alternative, this state would quickly go from laughingstock to banana republic.
The best thing to do is get through this train wreck of an election and let the Legislature fix this mess. Harrell predicts it will be an early agenda item.
That's OK too — they should be rested up, since most of them are running unopposed.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.