Tuesday, May 1, 2012

State House members set to nullify votes in race for McConnell's Senate seat

Posted by Chris Haire on Tue, May 1, 2012 at 3:36 PM

No one wanted Sen. Glenn McConnell to vacate his state Senate District 41 seat and abdicate his position as the leader of the Senate and the most powerful man in state politics.

Not McConnell, not his allies in Columbia, not his constituents in Charleston, and not jackass political columnists like myself who on the one hand praise Glenn for being one of the few rational adults at the Statehouse and on the other hand poke fun at him for his long-term love affair with the Confederacy.

But thanks to good ole Ken Ard — one of the hapless, untested, unqualified idiots that the grassroots Tea Partiers swept into office, and yes, I'm pointing my middle finger at you, Nikki Haley — McConnell had to leave his Senate Pro Tempore post and assume the office of lite governor. It was the saddest day in South Carolina political history since the wife of disgraced U.S. Rep. John Jenrette posed in Playboy.

Immediately after McConnell left office, many began to wonder just who would replace him. Currently, the race includes a quartet of political who's-that-guys: John Steinberger, Wally Burbage, Sean Pike, and Walter Hunley.

But there is one star among the bunch: Paul Thurmond, a former Charleston County Council member and the son of the late great Strom Thurmond.

Except there's a problem. Paul doesn't currently live in McConnell's old district, Senate 41, but that'll all change by the time of the general election in November.

What does that mean? Well, Thurmond can't be on the ballot for the July 24 special election to fill McConnell's seat. Whoever wins that contest — whether it's Steinberger, Burbage, Pike, Hunley, or their Democratic opponent — will be the incumbent. And voters have a tendency to re-elect the incumbent.

Now, apparently, some folks in the SCGOP aren't too happy with the possibility of someone other than Thurmond — or even a Democrat — winning the long-time Republican seat. And one person in particular is doing something about it. That person is Myrtle Beach's Rep. Alan Clemmons.

In what has to be one of the most short-sighted and manipulative political moves in some time, Clemmons has crafted a rather clever way to cancel the special election. He's drafted an amendment that would nullify the July 17 special election.

See, according to current state law, when a state elected official leaves office or dies, a special election must be held on the 18th Tuesday after the seat was vacated. In the event that the 18th Tuesday occurs 60 days before the general election in November, the special election will not be held. Clemmons wants to expand that window to 120 days, or four frikkin' months. The July 17 special election would fall within that new window, so it would be nixed if the amended bill passes.

And to make matters worse, Clemmons' cohorts at the Statehouse just might go along with it. Word is that the House is voting on the amended bill, SB 391, today or tomorrow.

What makes this even more unusual is that absentee voting for the May 29 primary for the Senate 41 seat began yesterday. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, your fellow Sandlappers have already begun voting for the special election. And if Clemmons and the other supports of the amended SB 391 get their way, it'll be as if those votes were never cast.

Man, not even Vladimir Putin pulls this kind of shit.

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