UPDATE: Court Rules Against Reece In Ballot Imbroglio
Tommie Reece, a Senate 6 candidate, has joined candidates from two other counties in a federal suit seeking to either prevent the primary from moving forward Tuesday or have their names returned to ballot.
UPDATE: It's back to the drawing board for Tommie Reece. Reece, who is running for Senate 6 in Greenville County against incumbent Mike Fair, confirmed to Patch on Monday night that the lawsuit she was a party to had been met with failure in U.S. District Court.
The ex parte restraining order requested by the lawsuit that would have prevented Tuesday's primaries from going forward - filed on the basis basis that Reece and four other candidates in the Upstate had been denied due process and rights under the Voters Rights Act - was denied Monday.
"We knew it was a long shot, but hoped that we would be able to convince judges," Reece said. "They did consider it. They didn't just say no up front, which they could have done."
Reece said it's highly likely she will move forward with a petition drive to get her name on the ballot in November.
"At this point many people are encouraging me to do a petition drive to get on the ballot for November, and we'll think about that and probably go that route. If there's nothing legally we can do, which it seems there isn't, that is probably what we'll do."
Tommie Reece, Ann Smith, Bob Shirley, John Pettigrew and Robert Tinsley have filed a lawsuit in Anderson/Greenwood Division of the U.S. District Court over being booted off the ballots in their respective races.
Reece, a Greenville County School Board member who is running for the District 6 seat of the S.C. Senate, said she decided to join the suit over the weekend.
The suit, filed by Candy Kerns-Fuller of the Upstate Law Group in Easley, seeks to either reinstate the five candidates to their ballots or to prevent the primary from being held by an ex parte restraining order, on the basis that the current law violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Smith (who is running for Anderson County Council), Pettigrew (who is running for Senate 25), Shirley (who is running for House of Representatives District 11) and Tinsley (who is running for 8th Circuit Solicitor) were all removed from the ballot due to issues with their economic interest forms.
"The idea is people are being treated differently. Incumbents and challengers, and even within the incumbents, they are being treated differently across different counties," Reece said.
Reece was de-certified on Friday after a S.C. Supreme Court decision made about statement of economic interest issues in Florence. Reece was removed from the ballot because she did not file her statement of economic interest at the same time she filed to run for office.
The lawsuit Reece is a party to asserts that she qualified as an incumbent due to her status on the school board, she was considered a "public" official, and was therefore exempt from the economic interest requirement that cost so many their names on the ballot. Reece was certified, re-certified and ultimately booted after the case in Florence because she had not filed a statement of economic interest specific to the office she was seeking, rather than the one she was already holding.
But the suit argues that situations in South Carolina with identical dynamics have yielded different results.
In the Senate 7 race in southern Greenville County, Karl Allen, Lillian-Brock Flemming and Leoloa-Robinson-Simpson have all been deemed exempt from simultaneous filing by their local Democratic party because they are incumbents, holding offices other than the seat for which they are running.
The suit further asserts that any change in election law must first be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Effectively, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling has changed election law," Reece said.
The suit was filed against both the State of South Carolina and the South Carolina Election Commission.
"I would have been spending these last four or five days seeing voters personally, on the phone and a lot of volunteers would have been out," Reece said of the legal action. "We would have been putting signs out really getting ready for tomorrow.
"Having to do this has been completely disruptive to our momentum, and is really disheartening and angering to not only me but to all the volunteers and voters. It upsets and discourages everyone from the whole election process."
See the attached file to view the entire complaint.