SUMMERVILLE — A court order requiring the Dorchester County Republican Party and the S.C. Republican Party to decertify non-incumbent nominees in the general election has expired but those candidates now cannot appear on the Nov. 6 ballot without another court order, according to an S.C. Elections Commission spokesman.
Deadline for certifying candidates for the general election is noon Aug. 15. The Election Commission requires parties to certify general election candidates, even after they win the primary and those results are certified.
The now-expired court order came with , claiming that the non-incumbent candidates had not filed their paperwork in accordance with state law.
Following the June 29 judge's order prior to its expiration, Dorchester County GOP Chair Carroll Duncan sent a letter July 7 to the S.C. Election Commission stating she was no longer the GOP nominee for Dorchester County Council District 5, there was no GOP nominee for S.C. House District 97 (formerly Ed Carter) and Sen. Mike Rose was the nominee for S.C. Senate District 38 (formerly Sean Bennett).
Without another court order before noon Aug. 15, the State Election Commission will likely write the ballot without Duncan, Carter and Bennett, according to commission Director of Public Information & Training Chris Whitmire.
"We have the winners of the primaries but even after all that the party has to certify candidates," Whitmire said. "Once you decertify somebody you can't put the paste back in the tube without a court order."
One wrinkle in the decertification is that Duncan cannot decertify statewide elected office nominees, according to Whitmire. While her letter addressed three seats where decertification affected the Republican nominee, she only has the power to decertify the county council seat, Whitmire said.
"One problem with (Duncan's) letter is that the state party is not decertifying," Whitmire said, adding that he has not received such a letter from the state party complying with the now-expired temporary restraining order.
S.C. GOP leadership has not responded to whether or not they complied with the June 29 court order prior to its expiration.
But who's off and who's on the ballot really doesn't matter since there is no ballot until Aug. 15, Whitmire said.
"Right now, there is no ballot to be ordered off of because we don't even have candidate names," Whitmire said, adding that they have the certified winners from the June 12 primary, but will rely on the county and state parties to send a list of certified candidates prior to the noon Aug. 15 deadline. "There are no ballots, so there's no action to be taken (by the Election Commission)."
Judge Diane Goodstein's administrative assistant Karen Parker said the judge made no ruling from the bench Monday on whether or not non-incumbent Republican candidates in Dorchester County are certified or decertified, and that the scheduled hearing was canceled.
Monday's hearing was to be the first since the June 29 filing. The next hearing will be a motion to intervene, filed by S.C. Senate District 38 GOP presumptive nominee Bennett's attorney Robby Robbins Monday, according to Parker. Bennett does not appear as a defendant in the lawsuit, but the validity of his candidacy will be determined by the case.
The hearing on Bennett's motion will be scheduled for next week, Parker said.
Monday, Dorchester County Democratic Party attorney James Smith told Patch that plaintiff and defendants in the suit had come to , since the injunction would also halt candidates from appearing on the ballot.
But the plaintiff withdrew the request for a preliminary injunction hours after speaking with Patch, and the judge allowed the temporary restraining order to expire, according to Parker.