South Carolina’s primary — and its state pride — is on the line. Faced with a state GOP that’s low on cash and a governor who’s cut off taxpayer funds, officials are scrambling to put together the $1.5 million necessary to run operations for the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
Primaries used to be the parties’ burden. But in 2008, Republicans and Democrats won state funding for their presidential primaries, which now allow crossover voting, putting their management in the hands of the State Election Commission for the first time. With tough economic times in the Palmetto State, the expected funding has now gotten tangled in a budget fight, and Republican Gov. Nikki Haleyshows no signs of giving in to the state GOP’s new request for funding.
The State Election Commission on Friday won some relief when the state budget office advised that the agency would be able to use leftover cash from last year’s elections, up to $680,000, for next year’s state primaries and elections — even if Haley vetoes the measure in the budget bill.
But that still leaves them almost $1 million short.
Haley had told lawmaker that she thought the GOP itself should cover the difference, but that was before last week’s final budget negotiations, which axed a measure that would have allowed the commission to run the primary and bill the state GOP. The South Carolina attorney general’s office has since cleared up some of the murkiness, announcing that the commission still has the authority to run a Republican presidential primary in February.
The South Carolina attorney general’s office isn’t sure how the funding would work. Neither is the State Election Commission.
“Can the party directly contract with the election commission? Can it pay directly whoever is providing the service, like poll managers and putting notices in the paper?” said the commission’s spokesman, Chris Whitmire, laying out the situation.
“It’s clear as mud,” Whitmire said.
Full Article: SC primary has money troubles – Kendra Marr – POLITICO.com.