The race for House District 68, representing the Myrtle Beach area, is an odd one.
There are three candidates for a special primary scheduled for Tuesday, but two of the candidates will run twice.
In Tuesday’s special primary election, Larry Richardson, Heather Ammons Crawford and Thomas Muse will vie to fill the remainder of the term of former Rep. Thad Viers, who resigned from in late March after being charged with felony harassment of an ex-girlfriend.
The winner of the primary and a July 24 special general election gets a five-month job with nothing to do -- the Legislature will be out of session by the time the winner is decided, so the winner will do nothing but draw a paycheck.
But then, Richardson and Crawford are also both running for the same seat for its full two-year term in the general primary on June 12, and the winner of that race will be on the November general election ballot.
To make the situation more confusing, Tuesday’s special election is based on current House district boundary lines. The regular primaries on June 12 are based on redrawn boundaries based on the latest census results, and will include different voters than Tuesday’s election.
“Some people who get to vote on the 5th won’t get to vote on the 12th, some people who vote on the 12th won’t have voted on the 5th, and some people will vote in both elections,” said Horry County Elections Director Sandy Martin.
Some of the current District 68 voters will vote in different districts -- 53, 58, 105 and 108 -- in the June 12 primary.
The redrawn boundaries eliminate Muse from the general primary, because he lives outside the new district’s lines.
Muse could not be reached for comment for this story.
The special election is not just confusing, it’s costly.
“The biggest cost is going to be the poll workers,” said Horry County elections chief Sandy Martin. “It’s going to be somewhere in the ballpark of $20,000.”
Tuesday’s special primary will have16 precincts with a minimum of five poll workers each, plus the cost of printing ballots, advertising and supplies.
“If there’s a run-off two weeks later, that’s even more money,” Martin has said.
“It’s confusing and costly for the county, the candidates and the voters,” Crawford said.
Rep. Alan Clemmons, for whom Crawford works, tried to head off the special election because of Horry County and a similar situation in the Charleston area, where former Sen. Glen McConnell resigned to take Lt. Gov. Ken Ard’s job after Ard resigned. But his bill didn’t make it through the House in time.
“It seems not only confusing and cumbersome, but, frankly, a little bit backward,” Clemmons said.
His bill would have changed the law so that if a vacancy comes about after the filing period has already opened for the general election cycle -- as in this case -- no special election needs to be held.
But Richardson takes exception to that effort this year.
“What gets me is the idea of going back and changing something that has already happened,” he said. “The state Constitution prohibits that, and you would think lawmakers would know that.”
Richardson, a retiree who has pledged to fight the state’s “good-old-boy” system and is not taking any campaign donations from anyone, has three issues he would like to address right away: How the state’s Supreme Court justices are selected; the inability of young voters to take part in party reorganization; and the state’s tax code.
Because High Court judges are chosen through a joint vote of the House and Senate, lawmakers are responsible for selecting the people who have the ultimate say over the laws they make.
“Who thought that was a good idea?” Richardson asked.
In S.C., people who will be 18 by the time the election is held can register to vote ahead of time, but only registered voters can take part in party reorganization, which disenfranchises young voters, Richardson said.
And he’s in favor of the Fair Tax proposal, especially in that it calls for businesses to pay no taxes.
“They don’t pay taxes, anyway,” he said. “They pass every bit of the costs on to customers. We need to acknowledge that fact and base our tax code around that. We would have companies knocking down the doors to start businesses here.”
His overall goal, he said, is to motivate citizens to be informed and participate in government.
“Citizenship is more than just casting a vote,” he said.
But when it comes to shaking things up, Richardson said he is a realist.
“I know I cannot change things overnight, and maybe I cannot change much at all,” he said. “But if I can change just one thing, it will prove that citizens can mobilize and take back the power vested in us by the Constitution.”
Crawford’s top priorities are economic development and having an educated workforce to support development; simplifying the tax code; crime; and what she calls the overregulation of small businesses.
She has been meeting with area education leaders, she said, to work on some proposals regarding educational improvements, and would try to create an environment where economic development could flourish.
The state’s tax code, she said, has become antiquated and far too complicated.
“I’ve been weighing the options of the Fair Tax, a flat tax, and some of the other proposals out there,” Crawford said. “There are lot of proposals right now. I don’t know if anyone has come up with the perfect answer, but we need to study them all and find something that is fairer for everyone.”
Crime is an issue in the Socastee area where Crawford lives, and her home was broken into last fall.
“I know it’s a local, county issue, but having a representative who can work with local leaders as a problem solver, and can address those needs is very important,” she said.
Like Richardson, Crawford has been knocking on doors and making phone calls, and she said one issue that has come up time and again is overregulation of small businesses.
“Some regulations are necessary to keep order,” she said. “But there are tons of regulations -- they have become burdensome. We need to take a common-sense approach.”
Contact LORENA ANDERSON at 444-1722 or follow her on Twitter at TSN_LAnderson.