SC Democrats Act Like GOP, Kick Labor Candidates From Ballot


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South Carolina Labor Party nominee for governor Gary Votour, party co-chair Donna Dewitt, 1st Congressional District nominee Lucus Faulk and lieutenant governor nominee Harold Geddings listen during a Tuesday hearing in the county of Richland to find out if they can stay on the ballot.

South Carolina Labor Party nominee for governor Gary Votour, party co-chair Donna Dewitt, 1st Congressional District nominee Lucus Faulk and lieutenant governor nominee Harold Geddings listen during a Tuesday hearing in the county of Richland to find out if they can stay on the ballot.

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South Carolina could have had a lieutenant governor with a green mohawk, but the Democrats had to spoil that.

Taking a page from the Republican playbook, the South Carolina Democratic Party gave democracy a kick by suing poor Labor candidates and barring them from participating in the November ballot. The Labor Party candidates said they would appeal.

The whole injustice is part of a larger problem in South Carolina of leftist infighting and a glaring mistake for the state’s Democratic Party.

During court hearings, Labor Party Lieutenant Governor Harold Geddings sat next to his fellow laborers with his lime-and-lime colored mohawk lying flat on his side and a goatee of the same color protruding from his mask. He sat with Gary Votour, the party’s gubernatorial candidate who resembles David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as Donna Dewitt, a former president of the AFL-CIO in South Carolina. Lucus Faulk, who reportedly ran against U.S. Representative Nancy Mace in the 1st Congressional District, was with the crew but had no distinguishing feature other than wearing jeans in court. No problem with that.

This group appears to be a statewide split from the Labor Party and the result of internal division. According to a court filing by Labor co-chairman Willie Legette, Dewitt went rogue, held a ‘convention’ and nominated candidates under the Labor Party banner, despite the party’s nationwide vote. state for not having candidates in 2022.

As the song goes: This is what democracy looks like.

Don’t let my words be construed as condescension. I believe this ragtag group, especially someone who has the tenacity to shave both sides of their head and dye the remaining hair neon, could shake up the government of South Carolina in a positive way, or at least in an entertaining, albeit short-lived way.

The infighting between moderate Democrats, progressives and leftist activists is part of why these factions are so anemic in South Carolina. Facing overwhelming odds against the conservatives, those on the left are going after each other by the throat, leaving them exhausted to take on the GOP.

The Labor Party candidates were never going to win or get many votes, especially being a fringe fringe group. This makes the action of the Democratic Party all the more odious and confusing.

Bringing Labor Party candidates to justice was undemocratic and a terrible standard for the party trying to portray itself as defenders of democracy rather than tearing it down. This is especially true when you consider why the Democratic Party found Labor ousted from the ballot.

The dissenting Labor Party candidates did not have their nominating conventions by the state-imposed May 15 deadline. It was the violation that allowed the court to rule in favor of the Democrats. It’s a technicality that’s not worth the accusations of desecration of democracy that might be leveled at Democrats for bringing runts to justice. The state election commission seemed willing to put the candidates on the ballot and was waiting for the court or the attorney general to give them the go-ahead.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson has defended bringing the candidates to justice.

“I had no choice,” he said. The Labor Party candidates “are the people who want Donald Trump thrown in jail and held to account, but they don’t want to stand on the same level.”

Robertson said he thinks the state Elections Commission or the Attorney General’s office should have enforced the May 15 deadline, but when they didn’t, the Democratic Party was forced to pursue the Labor candidates in court.

The Democratic Party’s actions are reminiscent of those of former state senator Jake Knotts, a Republican. In 2012, Knotts had his main opponent, current Senator Katrina Shealy, eliminated along with nearly 200 other SC candidates for a technical issue with candidate filing documents. Shealy won this election as a petitioner candidate.

I doubt the Democratic Party wants to look in the mirror and see anything that looks like Jake Knotts.

Do Labor people have to get along and agree with mainstream Democrats at all times and vice versa? No way. But Democrats shouldn’t be bullies by suing the little guys.

Instead of suing them, the Democratic Party should focus on ways to appeal to those precious few voters who could pull the lever of labor. By taking the Labor Party candidates to court, all the Democratic Party has proven is that it doesn’t have enough ideas to bring in the far left.

If the Democratic Party is worried that an outside group within Labor will steal enough votes to impact the election results, it has far bigger problems than leftist opponents.

David Travis Bland is the editorial writer for The State. In his previous position as a journalist, he was named the 2020 South Carolina Journalist of the Year by the SC Press Association. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2010.
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