BANNER LOOMS LARGE IN ELECTION TO FILL VACANT SEAT …
|| By FITSNEWS || The Confederate flag has been taken down … but its shadow still looms large over the 2016 election cycle in South Carolina.
The contentious debate associated with the controversial banner‘s furling has spawned all sorts of internal strife inside the S.C. General Assembly – and could spell electoral defeat for as many as two dozen lawmakers next year.
In fact the flag is already playing a role in a runoff election for an open S.C. House seat.
Back in May, S.C. Rep. Nelson Hardwick of Horry County resigned his office in the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations. Hardwick later tried to rescind his resignation, but it was too late.
He also initially threatened to campaign for his vacated seat – prompting House leaders to vow not to seat him in the event he won.
Earlier this week two candidates – local attorney and GOP executive committeeman Russell Fry and Horry County councilman Tyler Servant – emerged from a GOP primary election for the S.C. House District 106 seat vacated by Hardwick’s resignation.
No Democrats filed for the seat – which represents the Surfside Beach and Garden City regions of the Palmetto State coast.
That means an August 11 runoff election will all but assuredly determine who wins the seat.
Fry and Servant have staked out different positions on the flag – and those positions are beginning to impact the dynamics of the race. For example, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham‘s former field representative – Susan Chapman of Conway – has endorsed Servant over Fry.
How come? Because during a recent debate, Fry stated he would have voted to take the flag down whereas Servant said he would have voted for a statewide referendum on the disposition of the banner.
“I received a call today from Tyler Servant asking that I endorse him,” Chapman wrote. “I said yes. As you may know I donated and supported Russell in the previous election. However I was disappointed on his position on the flag issue. I felt that this was an issue that South Carolinians should decide and Tyler is also of that opinion.”
As Chapman’s comments indicate, the flag issue could make Servant – who received 33 percent of the vote compared to Fry’s 45 percent in this week’s primary election – a more palatable choice for some GOP primary voters (which could matter in what is expected to be a low-turnout race).
Will it be enough for him to make up a twelve-point gap in such a short period of time?
We’ll have to see … but if Servant, the scion of a wealthy local real estate family, is able to leapfrog Fry in a runoff election thanks in part to his position on the flag, expect supporters of the banner to become exceedingly aggressive in the 2016 primaries.