UPDATED - SC GOP Leaders To Meet With Connelly Over Pickens Co. Race
House District 3 saga far from over.
UPDATED 10:22 p.m.
Executive Director of the SCGOP, Matt Moore gave the following statement to Patch regarding Connelly's decision in the Pickens County case:
"Chairman Chad Connelly is committed to following the law, even in the face of criticism. Chad is as disappointed in the outcome as Ed Harris and voters. But the long-term health of the Republican Party is more important than one person's political ambitions."
The S.C. Republican Party's executive committee will meet privately next week with chairman Chad Connelly to discuss his decision to intervene in the race for House Seat 3.
Over the weekend, Connelly declared B.R. Skelton the party's candidate for House Seat 3, when Ed Harris won 51.6 percent of the June primary vote. He will be asked to elaborate on his decision on Tuesday in Columbia in a session with the party's executive committee.
The controversy began shortly after the primary when Skelton filed an appeal with the party, insisting that Harris was ineligible because his Statement of Economic Interest was missing. On June 21, the executive committee of the party rejected Skelton's appeal unanimously.
Connelly said in an email to the executive committee (see attached) that he based his decision on the fact that Harris could not produce the aforementioned SEI and his desire to avoid another showdown with the State Supreme Court.
But Connelly may have another court appearance ahead of him.
Harris' attorney, Stephen Brown, told Patch: "I don't want to sue the State GOP, but if I have to I will on behalf of my client."
Meanwhile, Harris isn’t waiting for a court ruling. He’s begun the process of collecting the 799 signatures he needs to have by July 16 to get on the ballot as a petition candidate. Pickens County Elections and Registrations Director Rodney Allen advised Harris to try and collect 25 to 35 percent more than that minimum of 799.
The intervention by Connelly came as a surprise to the executive committee, including Greenville County’s Dan Herren. “We’re hoping he’ll retract his statements,” Herren told Patch. “The Chairman does not have the authority to overturn a decision (such as the one on June 21 that denied Skelton's claim that Harris was ineligible due to a missing SEI). He did not consult the executive committee.”
Herren said the situation is entirely unpredictable, further complicated by the fact that, according to Herren, Connelly is now claiming he does have the authority to overturn the June 21 executive committee finding. Herren said it’s Connelly’s view that the entire session should not have happened in the first place because Harris was ineligible.
Herren was not sure if the committee has the authority to overturn its own June 21 ruling, but added that the committee wants to work with Connelly to resolve the situation, hence Tuesday’s meeting.
“Depending on the will of the Executive Committee things could go any direction,” Herren said. “Chad’s subsequent statements after his decision haven’t been helpful.”
Connelly and the SCGOP did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.