After four months of lawsuits and confusion, the candidates who will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot are finally becoming clear.
For Lowcountry voters, only one question remains: Whom, if anyone, will Republicans put up in the state Senate District 41 race?
In May, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled in a Lexington County case that candidates for state and local office had to file an ethics form electronically — and hand in a paper copy of that form when they filed for office.
Many hopefuls had filed only electronically, and the ruling knocked about 250 candidates off the ballot.
It also sparked a series of subsequent lawsuits, as candidates and political parties sought an edge in the courts.
The S.C. Supreme Court recently dismissed challenges to two Republican primary winners. Paul Gawrych in the Charleston County auditor’s race and Sean Bennett in the Senate District 38 race are eligible after all.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled that it’s finally over,” Bennett said Monday. “I regret that it’s taken this long, not just for me but for many others across this state. It’s been a pretty silly election season.”
Bennett faces no opposition Nov. 6, while Gawrych faces Democratic candidate Peter Tecklenburg.
In Senate District 41 — the seat formerly held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell — Democrat Paul Tinkler is on the ballot, but his Republican opponent won’t be known until Sept. 18, at the earliest.
That’s when Republican voters in the district will choose between interim Sen. Walter Hundley, businessman Wally Burbage and former Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, who recently was endorsed by former Gov. James Edwards.
If none receives more than 50 percent of the vote Sept. 18, the top two will face off in an Oct. 2 runoff.
Joe Debney, director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said Monday the county would delay sending out absentee ballots in District 41 if the GOP candidate doesn’t emerge until Oct. 2.
“Our hope is for no runoff, but you never know,” he said.
While the Supreme Court has allowed this primary race, it has not ruled on the merits of related appeals, so it could render the primary moot either by ruling the GOP never had an eligible candidate in the race or by ruling that Thurmond is that eligible candidate.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.