The South Carolina State Election Commission ruled Friday that there will be no runoff of the Democratic primary for the new Seventh Congressional District. That decision effectively makes Gloria Bromell-Tinubu the party’s nominee for the race. However, the issue still has to be decided by a judge in Horry County.
There is no doubt that Tinubu won the most votes amongst Democrats in the Pee Dee district, but the question was whether she received the “50-percent plus-one” mark required to avoid a runoff with fellow Democrat Preston Brittain. At issue was more than 2,300 votes cast for State Rep. Ted Vick, who withdrew from the race last month after his arrest on suspected DUI. If Vick’s votes are tossed out, Tinubu would win the primary outright. If they are not, she fails to reach the 50 percent necessary.
The Commission, acting as the State Board of Canvassers, voted 3-2 on Friday not to count the votes, saying that Vick was no longer a “candidate” and could not collect votes.
The commission cannot act on its decision, however. State Circuit Court judge Larry Hyman has already issued a restraining order against the agency, barring it from sending out any runoff ballots. Hyman said Thursday that he wants time to review a lawsuit filed by Brittain’s campaign. The suit claims the Election Commission (appointed by Republican state officials) violated election law by not counting Vick’s votes.
But Tinubu’s attorney James Smith–who is also a Democratic legislator from Columbia– said the commission made the right decision. “To count Mr. Vick’s votes simply because his withdrawl as a candidate came after the printing (of primary ballots) is contrary to South Carolina law, policy, and practice,” Smith wrote in a filing Friday.
If Tinubu is awarded the nomination, she would face the winner of a June 26 runoff between Republicans Andre Bauer and Tom Rice.