Pickens GOP Chair: Haley, General Assembly Should Stop Primary
However, Gov. Nikki Haley doesn't have the power to do so.
Pickens County Republican Party Chair Phillip Bowers is calling for the state's top official to put a stop to Tuesday's South Carolina primary.
The problem is Gov. Nikki Haley lacks the power to do so.
In an email addressed to undisclosed recipients, Bowers said asked Haley to use her Constitutional authority, as outlined in Article IV Section 15 and Section 19 of the S.C. Constitution, to make sure laws are executed by reconvening the General Assembly and passing the laws necessary to stop the primary.
"Join me in calling upon Governor Haley to convene the General Assembly and pass whatever legislation is necessary to stop the Tuesday primary, reopen candidate filing, and set a new date for the primary so that every citizen may exercise his or her right as outlined in the South Carolina Constitution," Bowers said in the email.
But Bower's efforts may be in vain.
In the lawsuit filed June 6, 2011, Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell challenged Haley's executive order for lawmakers to return to work and asked the state Supreme Court to intervene.
The court ruled that Haley lacks the authority to order them back into session.
However, Haley's office would like to see the General Assembly fix the ballot problem.
"This is an absolute sham, and incumbent protectionism at its worst," said Rob Godfrey, Haley's spokesperson in an email to Patch. "The governor supports the General Assembly coming back to fix the problem — something only they have the authority to do — and prove to the people of South Carolina that they understand who they actually work for."
Dozens of candidates have been bounced from ballots throughout the state after a May ruling by the S.C. Supreme Court that candidates who did not file Statement of Economic Interest forms along with their Statement of Intention of Candidacy forms by the required deadline cannot appear on the June party primary ballots.
The case brought by two Lexington County voters was designed to affect only a few races in Lexington County, but instead had a broad impact statewide.
A Tuesday decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the Florence County Democratic Party case, forced more candidates off the ballots in other counties throughout the state.
In Oconee County, the Republican Party has cancelled its entire primary as every candidate was knocked off the ballot by the Court's decision.
A source told Patch that a lawsuit will be filed Monday in federal court.
However, the likelihood that a federal judge will grant an injunction to halt the primary is remote according to an attorney who has worked on similar cases. The attorney, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive and unprecedented nature of the issue, noted that the South Carolina Supreme Court has final say on state laws and that federal law would have to be at issue for a federal judge to intervene. A federal judge does not have jurisdiction to overrule the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court. As an example, the attorney said, a federal court judge would have to be convinced that the Constitution had been violated or a that a federal statute had been broken when candidates were removed from ballots.
Furthermore, the attorney said that given that the primary is scheduled less than a day from a potential injunction, the logistical undertaking would be overwhelming if not impossible.
But still those who are off the ballot remain in limbo.
Rex Rice, who is collecting signatures to become a petition candidate for the Senate District 2 race after being removed from the ballot last month, called Bowers' actions “a dog and pony show.”
“Why did we wait until now to do that?” Rice asked. “Why do they need to come back in session now on Friday afternoon to do something next Tuesday? He should have done something when this whole thing happened, weeks ago.”
Rice said he thinks the Republican Party is trying to implement damage control on the whole issue.
“I think there's been a lot of momentum picking up right now for petition candidates,” Rice said. “I honestly think the Republican Party has realized they have dropped the ball on this thing. They've realized there's going to be a lot of petition candidates on the November ballot and that the Republican Party is going to be split. So they're trying to cover up the damage that's been done.”
Rice said his own effort to appear on the ballot as an independent petition candidate is going very well.
“When we started, I had a lot of concerns about getting the number of signatures we needed, but I feel very good about where we stand now,” Rice said. “I've got a lot of people behind me.
“The big challenge now is not getting the signatures needed to get on the ballot, but making sure the general public is educated and making sure they know to vote for the independent candidates who got on the ballot.”
He said voters in November needed to know to “not just push the R button on the machine.”
“Nationally, you need to think Republican, think about beating Obama,” Rice said. “Locally, you need to think about the candidates who are independents now. Many of them came from the Republican Party because of all this, and they need your help.”