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June 9, 2012

Lexington petition candidates join forces to gather signatures

A group of Lexington County candidates, removed from Tuesday’s primary ballot by a court ruling, has banded together to collect signatures to get them on the November ballot.

The group of Republicans includes two challengers for the same seat, clerk of court. But they said the trials of being ousted from the ballot trump their competition.

“We are a club onto ourselves,” said Suzanne Moore, who is working with Tommy Windsor, a possible opponent, to get on the ballot to oppose Republican incumbent Beth Carrigg. “We all have been done wrong in a very bad way.”

Moore and Windsor are among more than 200 primary challengers statewide punted from the primary after the S.C. Supreme Court ruled they had not submitted their paperwork to run properly. The ruling did not apply to incumbents.

Some of those 200 would-be challengers are mounting petition drives to have their names added as independents to November’s general election ballot.

At least seven petition candidates in Lexington County are pooling resources to gather the signatures they need to collect by July 16. Petition candidates must collect signatures from 5 percent of the registered voters in their county, city or district. Candidates seeking countywide office in Lexington must gather 7,800 verified signatures.

Lexington County voters on Tuesday will have a chance to sign several petitions for would-be candidate outside the polls. Petition tables will be manned by a volunteer or two — rather than a volunteer from each candidate seeking signatures, said Katrina Shealy, who wants to run as an independent against state Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, in a repeat of their 2008 race.

“We’re not going to fight each other over signatures,” Shealy said. “We all think people need choices, and we all want to be to the ballot.”

Shealy said the idea grew out of last month’s S.C. Poultry Festival in Batesburg-Leesville, where the petition candidates each had booths seeking signatures. “I thought we could be sharing these things,” Shealy said.

The Lexington petition candidates are expected to meet Monday to discuss plans for the primary. Moore said tables will be set up at the precincts that are likely to be the busiest Tuesday.

The campaigns also are organizing a joint signature event on June 30 at the Old Mill shopping center in the town of Lexington that will offer a free carnival and food in exchange for voters signing petitions, organizer Lee Pitcovich said.

Windsor said he has no problem picking up signatures for Moore.

“I have done things that felt more weird,” said Windsor, a former Lexington County GOP chairman. “We’re just trying to lift each other up through this election fiasco.”

Staff writer Tim Flach contributed to this report.

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