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Greenville finalizes Nov. 8 ballot, but councilman won't concede primary defeat

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Voters at the voting booth on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Laura Bilson/Staff

GREENVILLE — Despite a protest lodged by longtime Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill over his defeat in the Republican primary, the county elections board has set the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.

Joey Russo will be listed as the District 17 Republican candidate on the ballot, running against Democratic Party candidate Sheryl Guarniero for the seat in the northern portion of the county.

Dill still has refused to concede defeat in the primary on June 14 and doesn’t plan to, he said. He told The Post and Courier he won’t sue over what he said was an improper meeting June 30 by the state GOP executive committee where it overruled the Greenville County GOP’s decision to ask for a new election and declared Russo the winner.

Russo won the primary by 132 votes over Dill.

“My mentality has not changed since the victory June 14th,” Russo said. “I remain committed to bring a conservative voice to our council for District 17 and to work tirelessly for my constituents. While I am disappointed in the behavior of my former opponent I have no ill feelings towards him and wish him well in life away from council.”

Dill, by law, can’t campaign for the seat, though he said he couldn’t prevent voters from writing in his name on the ballot.

Dill said he had nothing to say to Russo.

“I do not concede the election because I felt like I was taken advantage of by the state party and by the (Greenville County) Election Commission,” Dill said.

After Russo won the primary, Dill protested the results and filed an appeal to the Greenville County Republican Party, citing unspecified “calibration” irregularities with voting machines in his district. The county party agreed with Dill, declared the election invalid and called for a new election.

Russo filed an appeal to the state party, whose executive committee called the June 30 hearing to decide the outcome. Dill protested that hearing too, saying the party missed its deadline to hold the hearing according to his reading of the state law. The state party disagreed and scheduled the hearing in Columbia. Dill did not attend or present his case.

The state party declared Russo the victor by a unanimous vote with one abstention.

But Dill said then he may appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. For weeks, Dill has said he was waiting on a decision by the county election commission, which had hired an attorney to review the decisions.

The election board made its decision and finalized the names that will appear on the November ballot when it met Sept. 1.

Conway Belangia, the county’s director of voter registration and elections, said he told Dill to discuss any election dispute with the Republican Party, not the county election commission. Dill did that, and Belangia said the board never heard anything more from the local or state party other than a list of candidates to certify.

“It takes care of it as far as we’re concerned,” Belangia said.

Dill said he plans to go into business as a consultant on political and other matters.

Follow Nathaniel Cary on Twitter at @nathanielcary

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