COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A judge has kicked Labor Party candidates for governor and U.S. House off the 2022 ballot in South Carolina, siding with the Democratic Party who said the third party didn't hold their nominating convention in time.
The Labor Party's nomination process came under dispute earlier this month when one co-chair of the party sent a letter to the South Carolina Election Commission certifying the names of the candidates, while the other called the party’s nomination convention a sham and said it was not to putting anyone up for election.
The Election Commission originally decided that because the nominees were certified in writing, they could go on the ballot.
Labor Party co-chairman Willie Legette, who didn’t want their candidates on the ballot, said he thought the party decided in March not to run candidates because it didn’t want to take votes away from Democratic candidates.
After the Election Commission's decision earlier this month, the state Democratic Party sued, saying the Labor Party’s July 30 nomination convention was two months later than allowed under state law.
Circuit Judge Alison Renee Lee sided with Democrats in a ruling Thursday, saying the law is clear on the deadline, according to media reports.
Labor Party co-chair Gary Votour, who had to argue his case to stay on the ballot as a candidate for governor himself at a hearing this week because the party couldn't quickly find an attorney, said the July 30 convention was an extension of its 2020 convention and not a new meeting.
“To reconvene a convention, a political party must first convene one,” the judge wrote. “Indeed, if a political party could simply deem any convention to be ‘reconvened’ from a prior one, it would render the deadline imposed by (state law) meaningless.”
The decision leaves Votour off the ballot as governor and Lucus Faulk off as a U.S. House candidate in the 1st District.
Votour told media outlets he will appeal the decision. But it appears unlikely he can get on the Nov. 8 ballot. Lee's ruling said nothing should “prevent the Election Commission from proceeding immediately to prepare the general election ballots.”
The decision means incumbent Republican Gov Henry McMaster will face Democrat Joe Cunningham and Libertarian Morgan Reeves.