Some incumbents may run uncontested after election commission nixes 14 local candidates

Some incuments, like Sheriff Al Cannon (left) and Sen. Robert Ford, may run uncontested after the State Election Commission knocked nine Lowcountry candidates off the ballot.

At least 14 Lowcountry candidates learned today they won’t be on this year’s ballot after all because they failed to file ethics forms on time.

The news means that six incumbents won’t face any challenge in either their June 12 primary the Nov. 6 general election.

Those candidates knocked off the ballot include Republicans John Steinberger (Senate 41), Chris Cannon (House 119), Samuel Rivers (House 15), Charlie Davis (House 15) and John J. Mondo, Sr. (House 98).

Democrats knocked off include Mark Whisenant (Charleston County Sheriff), Fritz Fielding (Senate 42), Master Bines (Senate 42), Barbara McGowin (Senate 44), John Polk (Charleston County Council District 3), Melva Zinaich (Charleston County Auditor), Larry Carter Center (House 114), Mirian Redish (House 15) and Miriam Birdsong (Dorchester County Council District 6).

The State Election Commission released the list this morning of candidates affected by a S.C. Supreme Court ruling earlier this week. The court said candidates who did not file their Statement of Economic Interest forms before they filed for office are not qualified to run.

The unexpected decision helps incumbents because most, if not all of them already had filed their necessary forms because they already are in office.

Those incumbents who now have no opposition include Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek, Rep. Chris Murphy, R-Summerville, Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey.

Matt Moore, executive director of the South Carolina GOP, said he was sad about this week’s rulings “but am committed to following the S.C. Supreme Court’s instructions. ... We are looking forward to moving ahead and anticipate animated and spirited primary contests on June 12.”

The decision also chaffed groups like the state’s Republican Liberty Caucus, which already had decided to support some GOP challengers now knocked off the ballot.

“Frustrating doesn’t begin to express our feelings over this,” said Daniel Encarnacion of Charleston, a spokesman for the group. “It’s taking the right of the people to vote, taking their vote away. What bigger civil liberty issue is there than that?”

In the Lowcountry, many more Lowcountry Democrats were stricken from the ballot than Republicans. Across the state, several dozen candidates were removed.

Read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier. Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.