The South Carolina Election Commission told the state Republican Party on Thursday that it effectively can’t put a challenger to Gov. Nikki Haley’s chief legislative opponent back on the June primary ballot. The commission said in an email Thursday the state GOP can’t recertify state Senate candidate Katrina Shealy, two weeks after decertifying her and other contenders. It noted the state Supreme Court set a noon May 4 deadline for the GOP and Democratic parties to submit their lists of candidates who properly filed financial forms, and that ruling must be heeded. Shealy was among some 200 candidates for offices statewide decertified for not filing correctly. “To accept candidates after that would be in violation of that order,” election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told The Associated Press. “The June primary ballots are set. Ballots have been printed. Voting machines have been prepared, and voters are voting.”
The GOP executive committee voted Wednesday to put Katrina Shealy back on the ballot. The vote followed a speech by Haley, a Shealy supporter, and led to a reprimand Thursday of a Democratic operative for his Twitter take on the action. “I want to have fresh faces, fresh voices in that building over there,” Haley told the committee, as reported by The State newspaper. “If you want to fix it, you can.” Shealy, a former chairwoman of the Lexington County GOP, wants to again challenge Sen. Jake Knotts, a fellow Republican and political thorn in Haley’s side who represents her home county. Knotts defeated Shealy and a second primary challenger in 2008, with Knotts winning 45 percent of the vote to Shealy’s 41 percent.
Nearly 200 candidates were booted from the ballot after justices ruled state law requires those seeking office to file a “statement of economic interest” at the same time they filed their candidacy. The form is meant to show voters any potential conflicts of interest, with information including any income from government entities. Incumbents must file the form online annually by April 15.