Federal judges hear Senate 41 case
A panel of three federal judges began a hearing in Charleston today to decide whether Republican District 41 Senate candidate Paul Thurmond should be able to remain on the Nov. 6 ballot.
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia lawyer, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a District 41 voter challenging whether the state violated the federal Voting Rights Act during the process that led to Thurmond’s becoming the GOP nominee.
Testimony began this morning, and is expected to conclude this afternoon.
Harpootlian is seeking to have Thurmond declared ineligible to run or to have the Nov. 6 Senate 41 election postponed.
Thurmond, son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, was declared ineligible earlier this summer because he failed to file a paper copy of an ethics form — the same problem that led to more than 200 state and local candidates getting thrown off the ballot this year. However, that ruling came after the June 12 primary, and the courts let the Republican party reopen filing for the seat. Thurmond filed anew and won the GOP primary runoff on Oct. 2.
If the judges let that victory stand — and it’s unclear when they will rule in the case — Thurmond will face Democrat and former Charleston City Councilman Paul Tinkler on Nov. 6.
Much of today’s testimony so far by Charleston and Dorchester election officials, and Assistant State Attorney General J.C. Nicholson, has involved the time crunch they have faced in the aftermath of the court ruling that led to the special primary.
Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier.