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Rep. Clyburn should concede Senate race

web posted November 12, 2007
OPINION – The election for the District 25 Senate seat has been held, counted, and certified. Republican Shane Massey has won. Though there is now a mandatory recount that will take place this week there is little hope that the certified results will change. Rep. Bill Clyburn (D-Aiken) has openly admitted that he does not have the votes to win, yet he refuses to concede the election. Campaigning on always doing what is right, Rep. Clyburn could have shown such and saved the tax payers a lot of money by admitting defeat when the results were certified. But he didn’t.

Granted there is only a 138-vote difference in the close race, but it only takes one more vote than your opponent to win and Massey has surpassed that threshold.

We are disappointed in Rep. Clyburn. His many years of honorable service and the respect he has earned are being destroyed each day he continues to leave the 25th Senate District without representation by dragging out the inevitable. What purpose does it serve other than to provide ammunition for Republicans to characterize Rep. Clyburn as a sore loser and compare him to perennial whiner Al Gore?

Rep. Clyburn is above such partisan antics, yet he is being pressured by the National and State Democrat Party to tow the liberal party line. All the while claiming that they just want “all the votes to be counted” despite the fact they are trying to disqualify as many Republican votes as possible.

In Edgefield County there are absentee ballots with signatures that do not match those provided for the voter. They are counted and represent votes for Rep. Clyburn. However, properly cast votes in Merriwether, a Republican bastion that always sees the greatest turnout, are disqualified because poll workers made a mistake and did not make three voters sign in before voting.

We wonder if Rep. Clyburn and the Democrat Party would be so willing to disqualify those votes if they were cast in a heavily favored Democrat precinct. Somehow we doubt it.

The reality of the matter is, since the inception of electronic voting, certified results have never changed after a recount in South Carolina. Rep. Clyburn should do the honorable thing and admit his defeat and let Mr. Massey assume his rightful place as Senator.

The election also brings about the debate as to whether or not a sitting elected official should have to resign his or her seat to seek elective office in another seat.

During the special election taxpayers funded a primary, a run-off, and a special election. If Rep. Clyburn had won the Senate race the taxpayer would have then been forced to fund another primary, run-off, and special election to fill Rep. Clyburn’s vacated seat in the State House. That is absurd.

As our counterparts in Georgia quickly learned, holding all elections, special or otherwise, at the same time saves money and voter fatigue. By Georgia law Rep. Clyburn would have been forced to resign his House seat and the special elections would have taken place to fill both seats at the same time. If Rep. Clyburn were to lose the Senate race he would have been sent home to spend more time with his family. The same would apply to Shane Massey.

With only one year left in the District 25 Senate term Mr. Massey will be forced to defend his seat-elect next year in the general election. Will Rep. Clyburn mount another run for the seat? It is doubtful since in order for Rep. Clyburn to mount another campaign would force him to risk losing his seat in the House of Representatives, which is also up in 2008.

He could not run for two seats at the same time.

We would hope Rep. Clyburn and Senator-elect Massey would consider legislation banning a public official from holding one office while running for another public office. It allows the appearance of impropriety with the possible use of the influence of one office in order to gain another. It also takes the elected representative’s attention away from doing the job they were elected to do while seeking another office.

One thing is for certain, such a law would definitely “shake up Columbia”.

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