York Mayor: I Did Not Endorse State Senate GOP Candidate

An endorsement for the Republican candidate for the S.C. Senate’s District 17 seat may have been touted prematurely, according to his alleged endorser, the mayor of York.

Republican candidate Robert Carrison posted the endorsement on his Web site, www.carrison4senate.com, last week along with a photo of Carrison and York Mayor Eddie Lee.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the City of York Mayor Eddie Lee,” Carrison’s Web site states. “Mayor Lee is a Democrat and a true conservative. This continues our ‘Democrats for Carrison’ campaign.”

But Lee said Friday that not only has he not endorsed Carrison, he has not endorsed any candidate.

“I have a long-established policy on that,” Lee said. “I don’t insert myself into other people’s races.”

Lee said both Carrison and incumbent Sen. Creighton Coleman attended a York City Council meeting recently, introduced themselves and spoke to council. Lee said he gave Carrison the obligatory tour of the Town Hall and posed for a photograph.

“They were both impressive,” Lee said, “but neither one was endorsed.”

Carrison, meanwhile, said he was under the impression from Kevin Thomas, Chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party, that Lee had officially endorsed his candidacy.

“I had no direct communications with Mayor Lee,” Carrison said, “but Kevin (Thomas) told me he had endorsed. I had heard he was going to, that there was some discussion about it, but I didn’t have any direct conversation with him (Lee).”

Thomas was clearly surprised by Lee’s statement that he had not endorsed Carrison.

“That’s not what I understood there,” Thomas said Friday, adding that he would be making a phone call to the York mayor to clarify the situation. By Monday, the endorsement had been removed from Carrison’s Web site and Thomas had issued the following statement:

“In working with a third party consultant, I was told that he had secured the endorsement of City of York Mayor Eddie Lee for Bob Carrison, who is running for Senate District 17,” Thomas said. “After the endorsement was announced, it was brought to my attention that the Mayor had only given the consultant permission to use a picture of Bob Carrison with Mayor Eddie Lee.

“I then called Mayor Lee to offer my apologies and he told me not to worry about it; it was not a problem. As Bob Carrison’s campaign manager, I take full responsibility for this error, and it in no way reflects on Bob Carrison or his efforts to bring strong, new leadership to the Senate District 17.”

Lee also said he was taken aback by statements on Carrison’s Web site about Lee’s political affiliation. York City Council seats are selected in non-partisan elections, Lee said, meaning that political parties play no role in the process.

“Who I vote for is a private matter,” said Lee, who is also a professor at Winthrop University. “Even my students don’t know my political views. I don’t wear a bumper sticker that says I’m a Democrat.”

As for Carrison’s opponent in the Nov. 6 election, Lee said Sen. Coleman has not asked for his endorsement.

“Because he knows my policy,” Lee said. “He knows I’m non-partisan.”

“If they can’t even get something like an endorsement right, how in the world are they going to be able to represent the people of District 17?” Coleman asked rhetorically when the endorsement error was brought to his attention.

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