SC Supreme Court upholds Dist. 41 special primary
The S.C. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Senate District 41 Republican voters weren’t wasting their time Tuesday when they cast ballots in a special primary.
Others questioned if the 3-2 ruling would open the door to a spate of other last-minute primaries just weeks before the general election.
In May, the Supreme Court ruled that candidates seeking state or local office were ineligible if they had not filed both paper and electronic copies of an ethics form showing their economic interests.
The ruling knocked about 250 candidates off the ballot, but in Senate District 41, Republican candidate Paul Thurmond’s candidacy survived through the June 12 primary.
While a circuit judge later ruled Thurmond was ineligible, the judge let the GOP reopen its primary for the Senate seat once held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell —the only primary redo in the state.
That second primary was held Tuesday, and Thurmond and Sen. Walter Hundley came out on top and will now face off in an Oct. 2 primary.
“I’m obviously ecstatic about it,” Thurmond said of Thursday’s ruling. “It means the people on Nov. 6 are going to have a choice.”
Paul Tinkler, a Charleston lawyer and the Democrat’s Senate 41 candidate on Nov. 6, said he has not read the most recent opinion, but said Thursday, “It seems like an odd result.”
Phil Bailey, the Senate’s Democratic Caucus political director, went further, saying the Supreme Court “just completely ignored the law as an excuse for (the late Sen.) Strom Thurmond’s son.”
Bailey predicted the ruling would trigger a “lawsuitapalooza,” as other disqualified candidates seek to reopen filing in their races.
But it might not. Republican Charleston County Council candidate Brian Moody sought to reopen filing for the District 7 seat — relying on the lower court ruling that the Supreme Court upheld.
He lost before a circuit judge earlier Thursday. Moody said his case is “exactly related” to what happened in Senate District 41, but he is unsure if the higher court’s ruling will prompt him to appeal.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.