Paul Tinkler must be loving this.

He might just walk into a nice political gig without breaking a sweat. That's how it goes when you're the only name on the ballot.

That happens a lot — but not to Democrats, not here.

So how is this possible? Well, all it takes is one bombshell Supreme Court ruling, a last-minute lawsuit and a monumental run of bad luck for Charleston Republicans.

Earlier this year, Sen. Glenn McConnell had to take over as lieutenant governor, thanks to the ethical shortcomings of former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard. There was a mini stampede to take McConnell's place.

But then the state Supreme Court ruled on conflicting laws about when and how candidates had to file a Statement of Economic Interests. About 250 people were kicked off the ballot — including all but one of the Republicans running for McConnell's seat.

Democrats promptly challenged the filing of Paul Thurmond, the GOP's last man standing.

The deadline to get on the ballot is Monday, but there still is no ruling in Thurmond's case.

Time for the GOP to panic.

No wiggle room

Basically, the Republicans are hosed.

The State Election Commission says the party has no recourse. If the court rules against Thurmond, the GOP doesn't have a candidate.

The only way the party could put up a replacement would be if Thurmond died, withdrew or was disqualified for one of several legal reasons — doesn't live in the district, isn't old enough, not a citizen.

If the judge rules that he didn't file properly, then it's as though no one filed at all.

“That would mean there never was a candidate, so you can't replace them,” says Chris Whitmire of the Election Commission.

And the odds of Republicans getting 5 percent of district voters to sign a petition for Thurmond by Monday are slim to non-existent.

West Ashley roulette

The GOP's only chance here may be Walter Hundley.

Hundley is on the ballot for Tuesday's special election to fill the District 41 Senate seat until January, which is a huge waste of time (but that's another column).

As insurance, Hundley is collecting signatures to get on the November ballot. He's doing well. Of course, fellow Republican Wally Burbage is trying too, so they could split the vote — essentially handing Tinkler a seat the GOP has held for three decades.

They do have one thing going for them. Although voters wouldn't see the Republican “R” next to their names, petition candidates at least get listed before Dems on this year's ballot.

No telling what that could mean. Maybe we should ask Alvin Greene.

If Thurmond is ruled ineligible, a lot of other candidates across the state could also be kicked off the ballot. And that would leave Republicans in the Legislature mighty unhappy with Judge Deadra Jefferson, whose delay in ruling pushed the party into this corner.

Of course, Jefferson has been forced to decide a case that could have direct bearing on the very people who elect her.

So the feeling is probably mutual.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.