Voters will cast ballots Tuesday for the seat once held by House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, after the S.C. Supreme Court halted a special election ordered by state election officials.
The state Elections Commission ruled Thursday that Republicans could hold a primary after Election Day to find a new nominee. Commission members voted unanimously that Harrell was disqualified from the race, which opened the door for a special election. Harrell resigned and agreed not to seek office for three years as part of a guilty plea agreement last week on campaign-finance charges.
Democrat Mary Tinkler, who is running for the contested House seat, filed an appeal with the state’s high court.
Her attorneys argued that state law did not allow nominating a party candidate after the scheduled general election, and that asking other candidates to halt their campaigns so close to Election Day to run against an unnamed challenger was “not equitable.”
The Supreme Court issued an order Friday placing a stay on the special election and allowing voting to move forward Tuesday with other races statewide.
Voters in Charleston and Dorchester counties will have Harrell, Tinkler and Green Party candidate Sue Edwards on the ballot. Votes for Harrell won’t count. Signs will be placed outside precincts alerting voters about Harrell’s ineligible status.
An order from the election commission released Friday set out a schedule that would have the special GOP primary two days before Thanksgiving and a general election two days before Christmas. Filing was slated to start Tuesday.
Instead voters will cast ballots in the general election as scheduled.
All five election commission members were appointed by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, and they received advice on how to handle Harrell’s withdrawal from attorneys working for Republican state Attorney General Alan Wilson.
“The Republican Party will continue its work to give voters choices in House District 114,” state party chairman Matt Moore said.