Harris decertified as GOP nominee

COUNTY — After taking legal action to try to get himself placed on the November ballot as the Republican candidate for S.C. House District 3, B.R. Skelton has gotten his wish.
Ed Harris, who beat Skelton in last month’s Republican primary, was officially disqualified earlier this week by South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly, making Skelton the party’s candidate in the November race, after Harris and Pickens County GOP chairman Phillip Bowers were unable to produce his statement of economic interest form.
The state GOP had recently denied a request by Skelton seeking to decertify Harris, allegedly based on the fact that Bowers and Harris had sworn that the form had been filed properly.
SCGOP executive director Matt Moore said that after the hearing denying Skelton’s earlier request, it became clear party leadership had made the wrong decision.
“Facts revealed following the protest hearing made it clear that Mr. Harris could not in good faith be certified as the nominee,” Moore told the Courier in an email Tuesday. “Doing so would have placed the party in serious legal jeopardy.”
According to Moore, the SCGOP determined that Harris was improperly certified as a candidate and inadvertently left on the ballot.
“Party leadership has done not only the right thing but its duty in making this decision,” Skelton’s attorney James Smith of Columbia told the Courier Tuesday. “Upholding the law and protecting the integrity of the election process is our primary concern in this whole situation.”
As a result of the party’s decision, Smith said Skelton has decided to drop a Supreme Court suit ordering the party to decertify Harris. A civil suit against Harris and Bowers alleging fraud, contempt and civil conspiracy still stands, Smith said.
Moore said the Republican Party hopes Harris does not file a lawsuit.
“There have been too many of those already,” Moore said. “The party’s leadership feels terrible for Mr. Harris. He did nothing wrong and was basically tripped up over the lack of a blank piece of paper.”
Harris’ only apparent option for making it on November’s ballot will be as an independent petition candidate. He must get enough signatures by next Monday to secure a spot on the ballot.