It seems surreal that candidates are filing for public in office in South Carolina in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – particularly seeing as the state has effectively shut almost everything else down in response to the outbreak. But it was decided early on that the Palmetto State’s filing period – in which candidates for partisan primary elections must submit their paperwork if they wish to appear on the ballot this year – would go on.
Was that decision a sop to incumbents? Or did S.C. governor Henry McMaster really lack the authority to move the dates (as has been claimed)?
Also … will partisan primary elections (currently scheduled for June) still take place as originally scheduled?
McMaster has already bumped back six weeks worth of municipal elections that were initially scheduled for March and April until May 1 (at the earliest).
Could May elections be postponed as well? And is a similar action forthcoming for the June elections, too?
“We’re watching coronavirus cases and discussing options with the governor’s office and legislature,” one official with the S.C. Election Commission (SCVotes.org) told us. “We’ll know more in a week or so.”
“All options are on the table including postponing primaries,” the official added.
Our source noted that partisan primary elections have been postponed in the past due to other factors, including disputes over reapportionment (i.e. the drawing of district lines).
While we await South Carolina’s decision on its June primaries, candidates who want to participate in these elections still have no choice but to submit their paperwork … and do so soon.
Is that safe?
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(Via: Funderburk for House)
In the epicenter of South Carolina’s outbreak – Kershaw county – incumbent state representative Laurie Slade Funderburk (above) of Camden, S.C. has filed her paperwork already. So have two GOP challengers seeking her seat – along with a handful of candidates for other local races.
Was it safe for them to have done so, though?
According to election officials, the pace of filing – which opened last Monday and will run through 12:00 p.m. EDT this Saturday (March 30, 2020) – has been slow.
Last Thursday (March 19, 2020), three days into the filing period, election officials sent out a release urging candidates to file sooner rather than later “to help avoid crowding in the final days” of filing. According to that release, only 700 candidates had filed at the time it was issued – well below the 1,019 who had filed during the same period back in March 2016, the previous comparable election period.
Frankly, we think it is insane that candidate filing has not been suspended already – particularly in light of McMaster’s recent order to disperse groups of more than three people meeting in public.
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Every single seat in the 170-member S.C. General Assembly is up for election in 2020. That includes all 46 S.C. Senate districts and all 124 seats in the S.C. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, as we have previously chronicled, legislative elections in South Carolina are notoriously non-competitive. In 2018, only five out of the 124 S.C. House races featured electoral outcomes in the single-digits. By contrast, 45 races featured elections that were decided by twenty percentage points or more, while 68 races featured candidates who faced no general election opposition at all.
That means the real battles are fought in the primary elections …
As of this writing, partisan primary races are still scheduled to be held on June 9, 2020 – with runoffs held on June 23, 2020 (if necessary). In South Carolina, if no candidate receives a majority of votes on the first ballot the top two candidates square off in a head-to-head matchup two weeks later.
Once major party nominees are selected (and any petition candidates are certified), the general election – currently scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – will take place.
We think …
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(VIA: GETTY IMAGES)