Judge to Rule on Thurmond Candidacy Today
A ruling is expected Monday afternoon on whether GOP candidate Paul Thurmond is eligible to run as the Republican candidate for S.C. Senate District 41
UPDATED 5:15 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Charleston County Court of Common Pleas Judge Deadra Jefferson had not issued a ruling in the case George Tempel brought against Paul Thurmond's candidacy for the GOP nomination for the S.C. Senate 41 seat.
Tempel told Patch via text message that a ruling may not come today.
Charleston County Clerk of Court Julie Armstrong confirmed that Jefferson had not filed a ruling in the case as of the close of business hours.
Thurmond attorney Michael Timbes also confirmed no ruling had been filed yet and declined to comment on the case.
Judge Jefferson was not available for comment Monday afternoon.
ORIGINAL 2:30 p.m.: Charleston County Court of Commmon Pleas Judge Deardra Jefferson said Monday she will issue a ruling later today on whether GOP candidate Paul Thurmond can remain on the ballot in tomorrow's primary election.
Thurmond remains the only GOP candidate on the primary ballot, his opponents Wally Burbage and Sean Pike were deemed inelligible for the ballot following last week's ruling in an election case out of Florence County. John Steinberger had already been removed from the ballot following an earlier S.C. Supreme Court decision coming out of Anderson County.
At issue is whether Thurmond qualifies for the public official exemption in the state's election law that allows certain candidates to skip the requirement to file a paper copy of their Statement of Economic Interest forms with his or her county party at the same time he or she files as a candidate.
Thurmond's attorney, Michael Timbes, contends that as a part-time prosecutor for the City of North Charleston, and because he filed an SEI electronically with the State Ethics Commission prior to filing a Statement of Intention of Candidacy with the Charleston County Republican Party, that Thurmond qualifies for the public official exemption.
Rep. James Smith, who brought the case on behalf of George Tempel, a resident of Senate District 41 and former Chair of the Charleston County Democratic Party, contends that the State Supreme Court was clear in it's ruling in the Florence County case that the public official exemption only applies to public officials running for an office they already hold and have a current SEI on file for that specific office.
Prior to the hearing Thurmond submitted a request for the S.C. Supreme Court to take over jurisdiction of the case, a request that was denied by the court during the course of arguments Monday.
Jefferson said she would issue a ruling in the case later today, saying "I need some more time to think about this."
Prior to the hearing Democratic candidate for the Senate 41 seat Paul Tinkler issued the following statement:
“I believe the legal actions filed by George Tempel on Friday are entirely appropriate. They seek to enforce the rule of law. Mr. Tempel, as a voter in Senate District 41, and as the husband of Carol Tempel, a candidate who has withdrawn her name from the ballot, has the right to ask the Court to apply the law evenhandedly. It has become clear that the Charleston County Republican Party has adopted a policy of favoring establishment candidates and has attempted to circumvent the express direction of the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court performed its time-honored function of interpreting the law and ordered that it be applied evenhandedly. Accordingly, like candidates John Steinberger, Sean Pike, Wally Burbage, it would appear that, according to the law, both Paul Thurmond and Walter Hundley should be removed from the ballot.
However, it is my hope that the Court in the present case will be in a position to craft a remedy that will allow all candidates for Senate District 41 to remain on or be reinstated to the ballot. Having been a practicing lawyer for well over three decades, I understand that the law is a means to a larger end: justice. It does not appear that any party in either of the cases that have been before the Supreme Court has asked the Court to invoke its equitable powers to craft a remedy in order to preserve the right of the people of District 41 to decide who will represent them. Hopefully the parties to these cases will ask the Court to do so.”