The Republican Party could have the chance for a do-over in the House District 114 race.
S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, pleaded guilty and agreed to resign immediately Thursday from his House seat, and not seek or hold public office for the next three years.
Harrell was seeking re-election Nov. 4 to his seat, facing two challengers: Democrat Mary Tinkler and Green Party candidate Sue Edward.
As of early Thursday night, the S.C. Election Commission had not received an official withdrawal from that race from Harrell.
“Nothing changes until we receive some official notification from the candidate regarding House 114,” said commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. “Right now, there are too many potential variables to speculate on a time line.”
However, the Election Commission sought advice from the Attorney General’s Office, which pointed to a section in S.C. law that indicates a special election could be held Dec. 9.
The Republican Party also could have the opportunity to name a candidate to run in Harrell’s place.
The S.C. GOP is studying its legal options to run a candidate for that seat, said spokesman Matt Orr. “We hope to have a Republican candidate on the ballot.”
Democrats are not happy about that idea.
“It isn’t fair – ... to voters and to the candidates – that the Republican Party puts in another candidate,” Tinkler said, adding a special election would not be fair either.
S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison said the ballot should stand as it is. “We knew in the primary that some of these ethics violations were being discussed.”
Harrell faced no opposition in June’s GOP primary.
Harrell’s name still will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, said Joe Debney executive director of the Charleston County Board of Elections. More than 8,100 absentee ballots have been requested, he said.
Tinkler said she was surprised at Harrell’s guilty plea, noting the speaker long had proclaimed his innocence. She added ethics is the biggest issue facing the state.
She was the campaign manager for her father two years ago when he ran for Glenn McConnell’s Senate seat. McConnell vacated that seat when he became lieutenant governor after Ken Ard resigned and pleaded guilty to misusing campaign money.
“We will continue to see these cases if nothing is done,” she said.