The South Carolina Elections Commission sent a strong message to the state Republican Party and Gov. Nikki Haley on Thursday: That whole “rule of law” thing y’all keep talking about? Yeah, it matters.
Despite the SCGOP Executive Committee’s unanimous vote to recertify tea party activist and Haley ally Katrina Shealy as a candidate against Lexington Sen. Jake Knotts in the Republican primary, the Elections Commission announced that Shealy will not appear on the ballot. Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the State Supreme Court ruling which removed Shealy from the ballot in the first place prevents the commission from adding any more names after the May 4 deadline.
“As an agency of the State of South Carolina, the State Election Commission has no authority to accept additional candidates after the May 4, 2012 noon deadline set by the Supreme Court in the Anderson decision,” Whitmire said in a statement. “The June primary ballots are set, ballots have been printed, voting machines have been prepared, and voters are voting.”
The commission’s move directly contradicts Gov. Haley, who urged the SCGOP Wednesday night to ignore the laws and court rulings which removed Shealy from the ballot for incorrectly filing an ethics statement when she registered her candidacy. “Did the law say they couldn’t run? Yes,” Haley told the committee. “But we can change the law — we do it every day.”
The Shealy campaign did issue a statement on the Elections Commission’s ruling, though presumably they made a few four-letter comments among themselves when they found out. Neither the governor’s office nor the SCGOP has returned requests for comment.