Rep. Mary Tinkler touts election victory over Harrell, fails to mention his disqualification

Left: Republican Bobby Harrell, Right: Democrat Mary Tinkler. Harrell was disqualified from their race and votes cast for him did not count.

COLUMBIA — S.C. House Rep. Mary Tinkler told a Democratic audience at the state party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner late Friday night that she had taken on a powerful Speaker of the House in a heavy GOP district and won despite the odds.

Tinkler, D-Charleston, failed to mention that her Republican opponent in the race had been disqualified. Former House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, resigned last year as a condition of a guilty plea to ethics-related charges. Harrell’s name was on the District 114 ballot but signs were placed at polling places telling voters he had been disqualified.

Despite the fact the votes didn’t count, Harrell received thousands, nearly 40 percent of the total.

“They deserved a choice and I gave them that choice,” Tinkler told Democrats at the dinner, which honored Charleston Mayor Joe Riley.

Tinkler said in an interview that she was seeking to draw a parallel between her successful campaign and the wins of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, the keynote speaker who she was introducing. She also said she beat other candidates on the ballot and successfully fought for the election result at the S.C. Supreme Court.

“I was keeping a positive spin on that campaign and using it as an example to say that Sen. Warner was also winning against the odds in his state,” Tinkler said. “That was my intention. I think we’re all aware of what happened.”

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.