Clarendon County Democrats seem to have a new strategy in the race to fill the Senate seat being vacated by long-time Senator John Land: Mutually assured destruction.
After the recent Supreme Court ruling forced all but one Democratic candidate off the ballot for the seat, Eleazer Carter, who Chairs the Clarendon County Democratic Party, has reportedly notified the one remaining Democratic candidate - State Rep. Kevin Johnson - that he will be considered ineligible to run for the seat.
Carter was one of those previously disqualified for the seat, suggesting local Democrats are engaging in a Mexican standoff which is serving to drag each other's candidacies down. We've been informed that Carter and the other two Democratic candidates who were previously bumped off the ballot intend to wage petition candidacies in order to get back on the ballot.
The lack of a Democratic candidate for the seat boosts the prospects for the GOP to pick up what would normally be a long-shot proposition, as many voters tend to vote for a single party, skipping over third-party and petition candidates. With several petition candidates dividing the general election vote, a Republican candidate would simply have to attain a first-place finish, thus the more petition candidates splitting the votes of those who do cast split ballots, the greater the chance of a GOP upset in the race. By forcing Johnson off the ballot weeks after the others have begun to gather signatures for their petition candidacies, it makes it more difficult for him to secure enough signatures before next month's deadline in order to get back onto the ballot.
Carter is town attorney for Timmonsville, which recently touched off a storm of controversy when it fired most of it's small workforce. Johnson won a surprisingly close special election for his State House seat last year after allegations of travel expense abuse arose. With candidates like these, we think the GOP candidate may have more than just a divided and bitter field working in his favor.