VOTERS ARE fortunate to have two solid choices in Tuesday’s Republican runoff election to replace retiring Solicitor Donnie Myers.
Candice Lively is an energetic former prosecutor who would bring a completely outside perspective to a solicitor’s office that has been controlled by the same person for 40 years. Rick Hubbard is an experienced former prosecutor who clearly would be up to speed from Day One as chief prosecutor in South Carolina’s 11th Judicial Circuit, which covers Lexington, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties.
We understand why some voters would want an entirely clean break from an entrenched incumbent who too often has bent if not broken the rules, failed to live up to the higher legal and ethical standards that we should be able to expect of prosecutors and ignored a prosecutor’s obligation to seek justice even at the cost of victory. We understand why some voters would want a new solicitor who has no ties whatsoever to the old solicitor whose personal behavior has been not only embarrassing but dangerous. And Ms. Lively is smart and capable and qualified for the job.
But we’ve seen nothing since our initial endorsement to shake our belief that Mr. Hubbard is the better choice. Despite his long association with Mr. Myers, he makes a convincing case that his election would also be a fresh start — but a fresh start by someone with far more courtroom and managerial experience than his opponent. Mr. Hubbard recognizes the problems with the win-at-any-cost mentality that characterized the solicitor’s office for decades and makes the legitimate point that the egregious problems with major criminal cases occurred before he became the deputy solicitor.
Beyond that, his professionalism and experience are overwhelming. He served as Mr. Myers’ top deputy from 2002 until last year, when he left to go to work for Attorney General Alan Wilson. Mr. Hubbard oversaw the attorney general’s criminal division and was being prepared to succeed Chief Deputy Attorney General John McIntosh in one of the most important prosecutorial positions in the state.
He has a smart plan for cutting the backlog of untried cases and refocusing the office to concentrate on the most important crimes. He also has a deep appreciation of the moral duty of a prosecutor to seek justice regardless of public opinion, and to seek justice even when that means losing a case. As he put it, “A prosecutor’s job is to do the right thing and to do it for the right reason.”
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how this would even be a contest if not for Mr. Hubbard’s 22-year association with Mr. Myers. And indeed, Mr. Hubbard fell just 45 votes short of winning the three-way contest outright on June 14, which is extraordinary in a relatively low-profile race involving three candidates who were virtually unknown outside of legal circles.
Everyone who voted in the Republican primary and everyone who did not vote on June 14 is eligible to vote in the runoff, and they should do so. No Democrat filed for the office, so whoever wins Tuesday will be the next solicitor. We believe that should be Rick Hubbard.