Paul Tinkler ends his mayoral bid

Paul Tinkler

The Charleston mayoral field has shrunk to six as former City Councilman Paul Tinkler announced Wednesday he is getting out of the race because of work conflicts.

“After considerable thought and much discussion with my family and close friends, I announce today that I am ending my campaign,” he said, adding that running for office and maintaining his law practice have become “increasingly more difficult to balance.”

Tinkler said he expected certain lawsuits to have been resolved by now, but they still are pending. He began contemplating an exit from the race last weekend.

His departure means the race is now between nonprofit founder Ginny Deerin, City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, nonprofit consultant Toby Smith, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, businessman John Tecklenburg and former City Councilman Maurice Washington.

Tinkler, whose daughter Mary recently was elected to the General Assembly after Speaker Bobby Harrell resigned from his former West Ashley seat, is not publicly backing any of his former opponents.

“I think it’s too early for me to make a decision about that,” Tinkler said. Several opponents offered him praise and best wishes.

Stavrinakis released a statement calling Tinkler “a class act,” adding, “Paul’s strong voice will be missed on the campaign trail. I certainly hope he offers for public office again.”

Tecklenburg also praised Tinkler, saying, “From the start of this race, he has brought both a sober focus on the issues and a welcome sense of humor to the campaign trail — two things that are often in short supply in modern politics.”

Deerin called Tinkler “the smartest guy in the race,” adding, “(I) know he’ll continue to be a major leader in our community.”

Tinkler’s most recent campaign filing showed he had $154,840 on hand at the end of June, but $100,000 of the $238,127 that he had raised was a loan that he took out.

“I think my campaign was in good shape,” he said, though his fundraising had lagged behind others, including Stavrinakis, Tecklenburg and Deerin. “Because I do have this full-time job, I could not personally devote much time to fundraising as perhaps some of the other candidates did.”

Tinkler’s decision came in time to remove his name from the Nov. 3 ballot, said Charleston Municipal Election Commission attorney Lucas Padgett.

Tinkler’s departure will make it a bit more possible that one of the candidates might surpass the 50 percent mark on Nov. 3, the margin of victory necessary to avoid a Nov. 17 runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.