SC Politics

SC3: Candidate Booted From Ballot Over SCGOP Residency Requirement

“Gutless …”

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South Carolina’s Republican Party (SCGOP) is rigidly enforcing electoral rules which require candidates to reside within the districts they intend to represent. One candidate who ran afoul of these rules – social conservative Michael LaPierre – was denied a spot on the 2024 ballot for the Palmetto State’s third congressional district last week.

“As a lifelong Ronald Reagan Republican I am dismayed and heartbroken that the Republican Party will NOT certify my candidacy,” LaPierre noted in an email send to this media outlet on Saturday.

LaPierre was one of multiple GOP candidates who filed to run for South Carolina’s third congressional district – which runs along the Georgia and North Carolina borders in the northwestern portion of the state. This devoutly GOP enclave has been held since January 2011 by incumbent congressman Jeff Duncan. A native of Greenville, S.C., Duncan had not been credibly challenged in any election since defeating state senator Richard Cash in a Republican primary fourteen years ago. Of course, that was before he became embroiled in a sex scandal  involving a Washington, D.C. lobbyist back in September – which exposed him to allegations of hypocrisy.

Earlier this year, Duncan announced he would not seek an eighth term in office – sparing himself the indignities of what was shaping up to be a bruising GOP primary campaign.

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While bemoaning getting booted from the ballot, LaPierre acknowledged “as a private organization the Republican party has every right to deny my certification.”

According to him, though, the timing of the denial – four days after the close of the biennial partisan primary filing period – was a deliberate bid by the party to “deny me my constitutional rights to see other ‘viable’ courses of action.” For example, LaPierre could have established residency within the district and proceeded to run a Republican had he received notification of the denial in a more timely manner. Or he could have sought to run as a third party candidate.

LaPierre remains constitutionally eligible to seek the third district seat – just not as a Republican. Given that this district had a partisan voting index of +21 during the last election cycle, however, winning the GOP nomination is the only realistic way to win the seat.

LaPierre referred to the SCGOP’s belated notification as “gutless.”

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Article I, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution holds that “no person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.”

As for eligibility to run for office as a Republican in South Carolina, SCGOP rule 11(a)(6) states that “no candidate may be nominated by the Republican Party who is not a registered elector in and a bona fide resident of the State of South Carolina and of the particular election district, if less than statewide, in which he offers as a candidate for office.”

In other words, candidates seeking the GOP nomination for U.S. congress, S.C. Senate, S.C. House, solicitor or any county-level office must reside within the geographic area they intend to represent.

Do I have any issue with that? Not really … not so long as the SCGOP is uniformly enforcing its rule.

Partisan primary elections will be held on June 11, 2024 in South Carolina. If no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, runoff elections would be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024. The general election – which does not feature a runoff requirement – will be held on November 5, 2024.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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