The state Supreme Court has upheld a special primary for the Republican nomination to fill the seat long held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.
The decision could cause more chaos for South Carolina's elections, less than eight weeks before voters go to the polls.
The court affirmed 3-2 a lower court ruling that threw former GOP nominee Paul Thurmond off the ballot but called for a special primary. The state Election Commission had joined in the appeal. It argued Thurmond should be treated the same as other candidates knocked off the ballot by the high court's decisions in May and early June.
Special primaries weren't held in any of those nearly 250 races.
Officials have said allowing a special primary for the Charleston seat could result in hundreds of lawsuits.