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Supreme Court Race Highlights Shifting SC State House Influence




This week’s news that the S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) named three candidates for an upcoming vacancy on the S.C. Supreme Court was newsworthy in its own right.

But there’s a narrative associated with this judicial race that’s also worth watching … and for once it’s got nothing to do with the inherent corruption of state lawmakers electing judges.

(Although this legislatively-controlled process is still screaming out for reform).

As we reported months ago, one of the early frontrunners for this post was powerful Columbia, S.C. plaintiffs’ attorney Matthew Richardson.

A former Democratic candidate for attorney general, Richardson is exceedingly tight with the neo-Confederate political empire of Richard Quinn and Associates – which until recently was the most dominant force in Republican politics in the Palmetto State.

Richardson was working closely on his Supreme Court candidacy with S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn, the crown prince of the so-called “Quinndom.”

Seriously … we reported on their collaboration.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know that Quinn and his father, Richard Quinn, are both rumored to be at the heart of an ongoing investigation into public corruption at the S.C. State House – a probe which appears to be simultaneously expanding and closing in on its targets.

Did the shadow currently hanging over the “Quinndom” impact the S.C. Supreme Court race?

Sources tell us “yes.”

When the JMSC selected three judges to stand for legislative election next year, jaws dropped at the exclusion of Richardson.

“So it looks like the Quinns didn’t have enough juice to push Richardson through,” a politically-connected lawyer in the South Carolina Lowcountry told us.

That’s the consensus among most State House insiders.

Sources close to the Quinns disputed drawing such a conclusion, though, arguing that Richardson wasn’t selected because he “needs some judging experience before running for the bench.”

And they could be correct: Richardson’s exclusion from the list of finalists could be a coincidence – tied to something that has nothing to do with the Quinns’ alleged proximity to the ongoing investigation.

So … among the three finalists who were named (circuit court judge Diane Goodstein of Summerville, S.C., circuit court judge George C. “Buck” James of Sumter, S.C. and chief administrative law judge Ralph King “Tripp” Anderson of Florence, S.C.), which is the favorite heading into the upcoming legislative session?

Stay tuned for more on that in an upcoming report …

(Banner via Sic)