Former S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s name will appear on ballots on Election Day, but he cannot win.
“The election for House 114 will go forward on Nov. 4,” S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Monday. “While Mr. Harrell’s name will appear on the ballot, he is no longer eligible to win the election.”
Harrell resigned his Charleston seat and withdrew from the election as part of his guilty plea last week on charges of spending campaign money for personal use.
The Charleston County voter registration and elections offices will place prominent notices in all polling places to inform voters that Harrell is no longer a candidate, Whitmire said.
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Harrell was seeking re-election Nov. 4 to his seat, facing two challengers: Democrat Mary Tinkler and Green Party candidate Sue Edward.
The S.C. GOP could promote a write-in candidate for the seat.
However, since Harrell had not submitted a sworn affidavit stating the reason for his withdrawal, a special election will not take place, Whitmire said. If Harrell submits an affidavit, the Election Commission will decide what to do at that point, he added.
S.C. Republican Party spokesman Matt Orr said the party has asked Harrell to submit an affidavit, a move that could allow a special election. “The ball is in his court,” Orr said.
A phone call to one of Harrell’s attorneys, Bart Daniel, and email to his campaign were not immediately returned.
Tinkler said last week it would not be fair if the Republican Party got a redo to name a new candidate for the post and the election was delayed until December.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said he was pleased with the decision to avoid a special election in December.
“We're pleased that the law was upheld today, and the Election Commission chose not to disenfranchise the thousands of voters in House District 114 who have already cast their ballots by forcing a costly, unnecessary special election,” he said.
“We’re disappointed for voters,” the GOP’s Orr said. “They deserve a chance to make their voices heard.”