TWO CANDIDATES BATTLE IT OUT FOR SPOT ON PALMETTO STATE’S HIGHEST COURT …
Ralph King “Tripp” Anderson – the chief judge of South Carolina’s administrative law court – has removed his name from consideration as a candidate for the S.C. Supreme Court, multiple legislative sources tell FITS.
Sources close to Anderson disputed that report, but lawmakers familiar with the vote totals said he had acknowledged the futility of future campaigning.
“He’s counting his seconds as his firsts,” one legislative leader told us, referring to commitments from members of the S.C. House of Representatives and State Senate.
Another lawmaker accused S.C. Senator Greg Hembree – who is supporting a rival judge – of “flat out lying about numbers to keep Anderson in the race.”
Anderson’s withdrawal would mark a major defeat for powerful S.C. Senator Hugh Leatherman – who reportedly went to all sorts of trouble to make sure the judge’s name was among those submitted to lawmakers by a legislatively-controlled screening committee.
It would also come less than twenty-four hours before members of the S.C. General Assembly cast their ballots for the next state Supreme Court justice (and for a new circuit court judge, among other posts).
The two viable Supreme Court candidates? John Few, chief judge of the S.C. court of appeals, and Bruce Williams – who also serves on the state’s court of appeals.
The conventional wisdom? With Anderson in the race, Few wins. With Anderson out, Williams wins.
Sources tell us Anderson – an early frontrunner in the race – has badly miscalculated his support amongst the General Assembly’s 169 current members. In fact we’re told he was reportedly counting liberal S.C. Rep. James Smith as one of his backers – even though Smith was counting votes for another candidate.
We’re also told S.C. Rep. Phillip Lowe – entrusted by Leatherman to win votes for Anderson in the S.C. House – came up well short of expectations.
Frankly, we don’t have a dog in this fight …
We remain opposed to the inherent corruption of legislative judicial elections – which we have repeatedly exposed and repeatedly called for lawmakers to reform (along with the rest of the state’s notoriously corrupt judicial branch).