The story we're hearing in the race to fill the vacant House District 64 seat in Clarendon and Williamsburg Counties sounds a lot like what we've heard elsewhere in the Pee Dee: powerful insiders pulling strings to manufacture political scandals in order to stop those who threaten the local status quo.
In this race their target is Kevin Johnson, a Democratic candidate and the current Mayor of Manning, who informed local media of missing money in Manning's judicial accounts on Thursday:
Today, the City of Manning notified the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office of its discovery that funds may have been mishandled in the City Judicial Department. Any time it appears that public funds may have been mishandled, it is the practice of the City of Manning to notify law enforcement and have the matter fully investigated.
Also, the City will conduct its own investigation to determine what happened and whether funds are unaccounted-for as a result of our recent discovery. As this matter may involve employment issues, the City is unable to release further details at this time.
The Blogland has talked with a number of sources in the district who feel the missing money was orchestrated by those who wanted to embarass Johnson and hurt his chances to win the Democratic nomination for the seat. These sources pointed to supporters of Dwight Stewart, the Democratic Chair of County Council who will face Johnson on Tuesday, as those behind these efforts.
Those local Democrats who intended for Stewart to succeed recently-passed Rep. Cathy Harvin weren't pleased when Johnson entered the race. The likelihood that two-thirds or more of those voting in the Democratic primary will be black voters, who generally vote along racial lines, will likely boost the candidacy of Johnson, who is black, presenting a major obstacle for their succession plans for Stewart, a long-time white Clarendon politico.
We've already reported on efforts to control the outcome of this race, so the notion that someone would want to play dirty tricks in the closing days of the Democratic primary doesn't seem as far-fetched as it might have otherwise.