Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=69927
Story Retrieval Date: 5/19/2013 5:25:20 PM CST
Medill News Service
WASHINGTON --When Stephen Colbert decided to run for president, he announced that he would compete as both a Republican and Democrat, and only in South Carolina. Comedy Central’s favorite right-wing pundit paid the $2,500 filing fee for a spot on the Democratic ticket, which was later denied. He failed to cough up the $35,000 for a spot on the Republican ballot.
Colbert’s not running anywhere, but what gives? Why is it so much pricier to be a Republican presidential candidate than a Democratic hopeful in South Carolina?
Who’s running the show in South Carolina?
In South Carolina – for the first time – the state is running the presidential primary. For past elections, it was the responsibility of the South Carolina Republican and Democratic parties. However, at the request of both parties, the South Carolina legislature passed Senate Bill 99, requiring the State Election Commission to run the presidential primary elections for 2008, and requiring the parties to pony up $20,000 to the South Carolina government for each candidate that appears on the ballot.
The South Carolina State Election Commission handles all other elections in the state. “With all the candidates and hype and being such a big race, especially in this political climate,” said Hogan Gidley, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, “we wanted to make sure the experts put on the election.”
The South Carolina Republican party is no stranger to legal headaches. In 2000, the party failed to file an election plan, detailing polling places and machines, with the Justice Department and was ultimately sued over the matter.
How much does it cost to put on a presidential primary election in South Carolina?
The South Carolina state legislature allocated $1.2 million for each primary election.
If the parties both paid $20,000 per candidate to the State Election Commission, why is the South Carolina Republican Party’s fee so much higher than the Democratic Party’s fee?
It all comes down to politics. In 1992, the Democratic National Committee set a national filing fee cap of $2,500 for a presidential primary election. So, the South Carolina Democratic Party has to fork over the $17,500 difference to the state for each Democratic candidate.
The Republican National Committee does not have national rules governing the filing fee amount. But the state GOP does have a financial requirement. The filing fee for the South Carolina Republican Party is $25,000 for candidates that filed before the May 2007 deadline and $35,000 after – with the remaining $5,000 to $15,000 going to the party.