COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Democratic Party is suing to keep Labor Party candidates for governor and U.S. House off this year's general election ballot because it said the third party missed a deadline for a nominating convention by two months.
The lawsuit came after the state Election Commission said earlier this month that it had no authority to intervene in a dispute among party members over whether they were going to run anyone for those offices, The Post and Courier reported.
Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman denied a request to finalize the November ballot, instead setting a hearing for Tuesday to resolve the case quickly since Election Day will be just 11 weeks away.
The state Election Commission decided to put Gary Votour on the ballot as the Labor Party's candidate for governor and Lucus Faulk as a U.S. House candidate because it had a letter from the party certifying them.
But party co-chairman Willie Legette told the newspaper last week that Labor Party leaders voted 4-2 in March not to run any candidates in 2022 because they might take votes from Democrats and help Republicans win.
The lawsuit by the state Democratic Party doesn't get into that part of the dispute, saying the Labor Party candidates should be disqualified because the party's July 30 nomination convention was two months later than allowed under state law.
The suit was filed by Chris Kenney, an attorney in Sen. Dick Harpootlian’s law firm, Harpootlian is a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Tuesday's hearing on the lawsuit is a day after the deadline for parties to certify candidates intended to give election officials time to met a Sept. 24 deadline prepare ballots to send to state residents serving in the military and others overseas.
"Every day we lose, it makes our job harder,” Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. “We do have an interest in a quick resolution. There’s work to be done.”