Senate kills bill to reinstate 180 ousted primary candidates

ashain@thestate.comMay 9, 2012 

When they go to the polls June 12, voters will likely not see the names of 180 candidates ousted from the S.C. primary ballot because of a state Supreme Court ruling.

The state Senate rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have reinstated the candidates if they filed statements of economic interest by April 15. That would have restored almost all the ousted candidates, state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said.

But some senators objected to the extension of the March 30 state mandated deadline. They also believed that by not changing the deadline the state would avoid a federal review over changing an election law that could delay the primary.

Just about 60 candidates would have been able to appear on ballot with the March 30 deadline, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said.

A Supreme Court ruling last week threw off candidates from the primary ballot who failed to submit written statements of economic interest.

Many county parties believed that challengers needed only to submit the forms online, which was part of a 2010 law. Incumbents are not affected by the court decision.

Senators spent more than three hours Wednesday debating their versions of the most fair way to return candidates to the ballot before voting to table proposals.

The Senate needed to suspend its rules to consider the measure but the parliamentary move would allow senators add amendments on any issue and slow debate.

One of the April 15 opponents, Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, said he planned to introduce all the contested bills on the Senate calendar as amendments.

“I’m in the catbird’s seat,” he said.

Some senators pleaded with colleagues to do anything to reinstate the candidates -- but to no avail.

“I think the seats belong to the voters, and we have disenfranchised them,” state Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, said. “I think people running for office in the future will wonder, ‘What rules did they change this year to keep me off the ballot?’ ”

The courts might be the only option left for ousted candidates. A hearing is scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday in a Columbia federal court on a lawsuit to reinstate one candidate who filed an statement of income interest online before the March 30 deadline.

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service