Mell Traylor Out of State Senate Race - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/30/06

Mell Traylor Out of State Senate Race

We're still a week away from the election, but one race is already over. Voters won't have much choice next Tuesday in the State Senate race for District One, after a judge's decision that the challenger isn't qualified to run.

Mell Traylor is originally from Savannah, but lives most of the time on Hilton Head Island.

He tried to claim residency at a cousin's house in Savannah, but Monday, a judge ruled against him.

There was a special hearing on the residency issue last week, during which that cousin acknowledged Traylor does not live with him.

Incumbent Eric Johnson says this decision is taking away any pressure he had, but he's disappointed the entire chain of events happened and that voters won't be given a choice in the matter.

"When we first raised the issue, we assumed that he was living in the house, but was playing games with the intent of the law," said Johnson. "But as it turned out, he really wasn't even living there. At that point it became a fairly serious matter. I mean it's not that he doesn't live in the district, he doesn't even live in the same state."

With the judge's decision coming in a day earlier than expected, the final word will still have to come from the secretary of state, but that's not expected to be any different.

Traylor's name will still be on the ballot, but voters will be told beforehand that he's been disqualified.

WTOC spoke with Mell Traylor briefly Monday night, and he's obviously disappointed. He said he had two functions to attend, and didn't return calls to try to set up an on-camera interview afterward.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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