Levon Martin said there was no reason he and other Horry County candidates should have had to re-file for their offices as petition candidates, but he “made lemonade from lemons” and now is looking toward the November elections.
“It is a frustrating process of having to go through and get these names,” said Martin, who has successfully petitioned to run for the Horry County Board of Education District 11 seat by submitting the required 627 signatures.. “The positive for me is I got to meet a lot of people.”
A pair of state Supreme Court decisions removed from the June primary ballot all non-incumbent candidates who failed to file their financial and candidacy papers at the same time. The move affected more than a dozen area candidates, who had to collect signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters in the counties, cities or districts where they are running by noon Monday to appear on the November ballot. The signatures didn’t have to be from a certain party designation.
Martin and his opponent, Jeffrey Garland, had expected to meet in the primary to settle which Republican would run for District 11, as incumbent Trent Hardee is not running for re-election. Garland also has re-filed for the seat, which means both candidates will be listed on the ballot as petition candidates, not Republicans.
Sandy Martin, director of Horry County’s voter registration and election office, said those who usually vote a straight party ticket will need to look at each office on the ballot separately if they want a petition candidate to win. She said besides District 11, there are other seats that will have only petition candidates running – including S.C. House district seats 56 and 105 – and anyone who just votes straight party will not be casting a vote in those races.
Greg Hembree, solicitor for the 15th Judicial Circuit, will be on the November ballot as a petition candidate for the District 28 state Senate seat, but he won’t have to worry about his name being overlooked, as he also will be on the ballot as the Republican candidate.
Hembree said he was an exempt candidate, with a statement of economic interest already on file, so his name was never taken off the ballot. He went through the petition process, however, to give himself a safety net.
“Watching these court cases pop up all over the state, I got concerned,” Hembree said. “I’d hate to have worked this hard, and had others work hard for me, and not have done everything I could have to have prevented some weird problem. ... It was an insurance policy against any unpredictable court ruling.”
Hembree said he needed 3,000 signatures, but he turned in almost 4,300, which took him and his team six days to verify. Those signatures now must be verified by the election commission.
Hembree said the extra work had added benefits he didn’t anticipate.
“It turned out to be really great campaigning,” he said. “I met tons of people I didn’t know in that process. It’s not like it was a waste of time.”
Not everyone who intended to re-file was able to finish the process, such as Camille Noonan, who was running for the Horry County school board seat in District 5. Noonan said she had been doing well with the signature collection but was waylaid by an illness in her family.
“I couldn’t have put the time into it at that point,” said Noonan, but she didn’t rule out a future run.
“I’d love to do it,” she said.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.