Last week to be on the ballot based on the State Supreme Court’s May 2 ruling, which required that candidates present a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form and a Statement of Intention of Candidacy (SIC) simultaneously to be considered eligible.
On Wednesday, the Greenville County Democratic Party decided to challenge the eligibility of certain candidates.
The party filed suit in Greenville County Courts, naming the Greenville County Republican Party (and party chair Betty Poe), the South Carolina Republican Party, the Greenville County Board of Elections, and three GOP candidates (Mike Barnes, Jane Kizer and Ross Turner) as defendants.
In the complaint (see attached), the Democrats allege that the Republicans knowingly put candidates on the ballot who were in violation of election law, by not properly filing their SICs and SEIs. It’s the same problem that has created confusion in Dorchester County, caused a candidate in Pickens County to be removed even though he won his primary, and forced Oconee County to cancel its primary entirely.
The Democrats also made a request for expediency, given that all candidates must be certified by Aug. 15. A hearing date has not been set at this time.
Barnes, Kizer and Turner are all slated to be on the ballot in November. Barnes and Turner were expected to be unopposed. Kizer was unopposed in her primary race and is scheduled to oppose Karl Allen for the Senate 7 seat.
Barnes defeated Joe Baldwin in the Republican primary for County Council Seat 18, while for the Senate 8 seat.
Jeff Dishner, a Democrat from Greenville, was slated to challenge Turner in November, but he was removed from the ballot after the Supreme Court’s ruling in May. Dishner was unsuccessful in an attempt to qualify as a petition candidate.
Dishner spoke to Patch on Friday and said he and three other Democrats who had been removed from the ballots met with County Chair Eric Graben last week to consider their best course of action. That meeting led to Wednesday’s suit being filed by James Smith, who is the House Representative for District 72 in the Columbia area. Smith also represented Republican B.R. Skelton, the incumbent involved in the .
“We just wanted to make sure everyone followed the same rules,” Dishner said.
After the meeting, Graben contacted Poe, his counterpart with the GOP, and requested proof that Republican candidates had filed properly. Poe did not respond and the suit was filed.
Dishner said he hopes that, as has been the case in other counties with ballot issues, that those who erred admit their mistakes.
“I don’t think anyone is going to perjure themselves over this,” he said. “It’s shameful that someone could start a political campaign by lying.”
On his Facebook page Turner posted the following message to his supporters:
"Some of you may have heard about the Democrats' lawsuit over candidate filing. We want to put everyone at ease and assure you that our campaign filed everything properly. Our campaign continues its focus toward the fall. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do."
Kizer, speaking via Twitter said:
"I filed my SEI at the same time that I filed to run for office. We had multiple witnesses there as well. So my candidacy is legit."
NOTE: Jane Kizer's comments were added after this story was first published.