Special Senate 41 election set for Tuesday

Metro - Sue Edward, Green party candidate in the July 17 special election for Senate District 41. PROVIDED

Some West Ashley, James Island, North Charleston, Seabrook and Kiawah residents will vote Tuesday and choose among three candidates hoping to fill the remaining months of the District 41 Senate seat.

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell had to give up the seat this spring after former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned in disgrace.

Two Charleston lawyers — Republican Walter Hundley and Democrat Paul Tinkler — are running in Tuesday’s special election, as is Green Party candidate and businesswoman Sue Edward.

Only Tinkler also plans to run during the Nov. 6 general election, which will decide who represents the district for the next four years. However, Hundley could mount a campaign as a petition candidate should Republican and former Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond be declared ineligible in that race.

Edward said she is not running this fall because she cannot afford to miss three days of work a week when the Legislature returns to its regular sessions in January. She said she is running to promote the Green Party as a viable alternative to Republicans and Democrats.

“If people are willing to vote a third party, maybe that will get the ball rolling for the future,” she said.

Tinkler is the only candidate with previous experience in office: He served nine years on Charleston City Council.

Tinkler said he is focusing most on the need to heighten ethical awareness in Columbia, and he vowed not to participate in any judicial elections for a judge who has presided over a case that he has been involved in since becoming a senator. He also said the State Ethics Commission should handle ethical probes into House and Senate members — not legislative committees.

“The fundamental issue that has emerged during the campaign is, for a lack of a better term, corruption in state government,” he said. “Rather than taking the defense of ‘Everybody is doing this,’ somebody needs to step forward and say, ‘This shouldn’t be this way.’ ”

Tinkler said he also has made a list of constituent service-type issues while campaigning and would work on those, such as advocating for a new traffic light at Folly and Grimball roads.

Hundley, who has featured McConnell in his campaign ads, has vowed to push for one issue that McConnell was working on — constitutional spending caps.

While the winner of Tuesday’s election only will serve through December and the Legislature may not hold any sessions during that time, Hundley said the outcome is still important.

“The real point is we don’t have a senator up there right now,” he said. “There are some things that go on in the offseason.”

Hundley said Tuesday’s outcome could determine whether the Charleston County Legislative Delegation tips to a Democratic majority. And that in turn could affect magistrate appointments and appointments to local boards and commissions.

Hundley originally said he would not run this fall but said he expects to be on the ballot as a petition candidate should Thurmond get knocked off. Both Hundley and Thurmond are subject of lawsuits claiming that they’re ineligible candidates for failing to file their Statement of Economic Interests properly — the same problem that led to a S.C. Supreme Court ruling that kicked more than 200 candidates off the ballot statewide.

Hundley faces a court hearing on his suit Monday, the day before his special election. But his potential petition candidacy this fall is not affected by the court case. “I’m not going to let him (Tinkler) walk to Columbia without competition,” Hundley said.

Tuesday’s winner won’t be certified by the Charleston County Election Commission until July 20, and the State Election Commission is expected to certify the winner by July 27, county elections director Joseph Debney said. So Tuesday’s winner won’t be able to cast a vote Wednesday as the Senate considers Gov. Nikki Haley’s budget vetoes.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.