Doug Henderson is one step closer to becoming the first opponent that Beaufort County Treasurer Joy Logan has faced since taking office nearly two decades ago.
About two hours before the noon deadline Thursday, Henderson submitted a 1,043-page petition with 9,690 signatures to the county Board of Voter Registration and Elections. To appear on the ballot as a petition candidate, Henderson must collect signatures from at least 5 percent -- or 4,720 -- of the county's 94,393 registered voters.
Henderson, a retired banker who lives on Lady's Island, said he was overwhelmed by the groundswell that helped him collect more than twice the required number of signatures.
"I thought it was going to be tough enough to get to 4,700," Henderson said. "In the first couple weeks, I thought, 'Boy, I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this.' It just kept spreading and spreading, and all of a sudden, we were getting 500 a day. I still had people calling me today trying to sign the petition."
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County elections officials have until Aug. 16 to verify the signatures are from eligible voters, said Scott Marshall, director of the election board.
According to state law, county elections officials must check each of the first 500 signatures collected and at least one of every 10 signatures thereafter. If the required number of signatures is not found using that sampling method, each signature beyond the first 501 also must be checked individually.
Logan said she would keep a close eye on the process and consider challenging the signatures if necessary.
"If it became close, I would consider (challenging) but not if he has many more or fewer signatures than he needs," Logan said. "I have confidence in the process."
Henderson was among three initially vying to challenge Logan, who has come under fire after the May 12 arrest of Casaundra White, a former Treasurer's Office employee accused of stealing more than $210,000 from the office's public accounts.
Mack Cook, Beaufort city comptroller, dropped out of the race last month after deciding he was too busy to continue.
A law prohibiting federal employees from seeking office against a partisan candidate prompted Jimmy Mackie, a Navy procurement technician, to drop out of the race two weeks ago, leaving Henderson as the only candidate still seeking to oust Logan in the November general election.
Henderson said a legion of volunteers helped keep him in the race by pushing the petitions and urging others to do the same, particularly Wally Hollinger and Charlie Mitchell of Sun City Hilton Head.
Mitchell said he had no intention of playing such an active role in the campaign when he met Henderson in late May, but wanted to be a part of something that brought change to the Treasurer's Office.
"I read that he was running in the paper and wanted to sign the guy's petition," Mitchell said. "It just went from there."
If Henderson gets on the ballot, he will be the first opponent Logan has faced since the 1990 Republican primary. In that race, she defeated former county administrator Michael O'Neill by about 1,500 votes. She has run unopposed in every primary and general election since taking office in 1991, according to county records.
Logan said Henderson could be a formidable opponent.
"It's going to be a challenge," Logan said. "I know I've got a lot of supporters, but if he was able to get 9,000 signatures, he obviously has a lot of support, too."