Multiple candidates for Lexington County coroner expected

tflach@therstate.comMay 7, 2014 

— Several candidates may seek to replace the late Harry Harman as Lexington County coroner, political leaders say.

The upcoming contest to win the post that Harman held for 37 years “is going to be wild,” county election director Dean Crepes said.

By some counts, as many as six candidates are exploring a race for a post whose role is determining the cause and manner of death of anyone who dies violently or under unusual circumstances.

Filing for the match starts Friday, with some candidates already campaigning.

Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination at the July 1 primary ballot – former Richland County coroner Frank Barron, radio broadcaster Charlie Benton and former police officer Clay Burkett.

Barron has signs up, Benton is appearing before GOP groups and Burkett announced his effort on social media.

It’s the second time around for some candidates.

Barron lost a challenge to Harman in 2012 while Burkett was among more than 200 candidates statewide taken off the ballot then after a snafu over incorrect personal financial disclosures.

The contest is to fill the remainder of the four-term term to which Harman was re-elected in 2012. He died April 18 at 79.

Gov. Nikki Haley appointed veteran forensic scientist Earl Wells to handle the job on an interim basis.

The key professional relationships that coroners must have are with law enforcement – deputies, police and prosecutors.

Harman generally stepped back at crime scenes, Sheriff James Metts said.

“We’ve had such a good working relationship with Harry that he let us go in and do what we need to do and the turn it over to him,” Metts said.

The Lexington County coroner is paid nearly $86,000 a year.

Staff writer Clif LeBlanc contributed to this story.

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