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Pawlenty Wants SC Presidential Primary Fee Refund

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(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is looking for a $25,000 primary filing fee refund from South Carolina as he pays off bills from a cash-strapped and defunct presidential bid.

“We’re trying to get that South Carolina filing fee back. We’re working on that,” Pawlenty said this week. “We have got a little debt.”

Matt Moore, executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, said it’s not an unusual request, but Pawlenty shouldn’t expect it.

“It is our current policy not to refund filing fees,” Moore said.

South Carolina Republicans use the highest filing fees among early primary states to cover the cost of the key, first-in-the-South presidential primary planned for Jan. 21. The state runs the primary, but the party is expected to cover more than half of an estimated $1.2 million tab.

Pawlenty was one of five candidates paying a $25,000 early filing fee to claim a spot in the GOP’s first debate of the primary season in Greenville. It was a pricey and early test of candidate commitment to the race and some candidates said they weren’t ready to launch their bids.

Among those that paid, businessman Herman Cain and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas have had more success in early polling than Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney paid a $35,000 fee later.

Other candidates now have to pay up by Nov. 5 to get on the South Carolina ballot, including campaigns with their own cash challenges as the primary season picked up and their fortunes faltered. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia haven’t paid their South Carolina fee and both have seen fundraising sputter.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t filed yet, but with about $15 million in cash, the South Carolina fee would be more of a formality than challenge.

Perry’s South Carolina campaign adviser, Katon Dawson, said the fee will be paid before the end of October. Dawson, a former state GOP chairman, said he’d like to see Perry get a break on the fee since he entered the race later.
“There’s a line between being conservative and cheap and I’m both,” Dawson said.

Bachmann, Gingrich and Perry have all campaigned heavily in South Carolina, with Perry launching his bid in Charleston. The Bachmann and Gingrich campaigns did not immediately respond Friday to questions about plans to pay the South Carolina fee.

New Hampshire opens its primary ballot filing period on Monday and candidates have until Oct. 28 to hand over $1,000 and provide names of delegates who would go to the national convention on their behalf if they win.

Iowa’s caucus is looser. Candidates don’t have to pay nor submit paperwork to get votes.

“Some counties will make ballots with names on them, some counties won’t,” said Ryan Gough of the state Republican Party. For instance, although former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin isn’t running, someone could put her name on a ballot.

Pawlenty says he also wants his name off the South Carolina ballot. Moore said that would be done if Pawlenty sends a formal request.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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