State Sen. Clementa Pinckney’s Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 election said Pinckney wasn’t eligible to run for the seat, much less win.
Leilani Bessinger has taken her case to the State Election Commission, which will hear it on Nov. 27.
At issue is whether Pinckney was a legal resident in Senate District 45 — which covers southern Charleston County and parts of Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties — when he filed for office in March.
Pinckney defeated Bessinger by a 2-1 margin Nov. 6, but since then, she has raised questions about the location of the Ridgeland address he has called home.
The commission can consider several factors when it comes to weighing where Pinckney intended to call home, including income tax returns; real estate interests; mailing address; his driver’s license; legal and financial documents; and others, according to state law.
Bessinger’s protest alleges that Arthur Murray, chairman of Jasper County’s Democratic Party as well as the Jasper County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, erred in determining that Pinckney lived in the district.
The protest also states that Pinckney’s wife has owned a home in Lexington and resided at a home in Aiken County — both well outside the district.
The question of Pinckney’s residency arose only after the Nov. 6 election in a story published by the Jasper County Sun. Pinckney gave that newspaper a different Ridgeland address as his residence.
Neither Pinckney nor Bessinger responded to requests for comment Monday.
If it upholds the protest, the commission could order a new election, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. However, Pinckney also could appeal the decision to the state Senate, he added.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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