By Barney Blakeney
While many are convinced the November mid-term elections may influence the presidency for the next two years, if the lackluster appearance of candidate filings for the June 12 primary elections is any indication, the November general elections likely will produce more of the same.
Political gerrymandering has reduced competition for election to such extremes, locally only three primary races may generate much interest – the Democratic Primary election for Charleston County Probate Judge and the Democratic and Republican primary election for Charleston County Register of Deeds. Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley and Kelsey Willey face off in the Democratic primary for probate judge. The winner will face incumbent Irving Condon in November. Patrick Bell and Michael Miller face off in the Democratic primary for register of deeds while Daniel Gregory and Thomas Hartnett Jr. face off in the Republican primary for the office.
Although five county council districts – districts 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9 – and all 124 state representative seats will be elected, gerrymandered single member district elections virtually guarantee incumbents will survive, even those with opposition. Congressional seats are equally safe.
According to the S.C. Progressive Network’s Democratic Project while racial gerrymandering is illegal political gerrymandering is allowed. That’s essentially created near racially homogenous political districts. Charleston County Republican Party Chair Larry Kobrovsky says that’s benefitted both major political parties.
Gerrymandering plays into our political system significantly, Kobrovsky said, and it’s been destructive having created parochialism on both sides of party lines. In almost every district, primary elections determine the ultimate outcome of the general election. Ironically, single member districts intended to give minorities representation effectively limit their representation, he said. As a result, according to the Democratic Project 77 percent of legislative races have only one party named in general elections.