By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – A circuit judge has dismissed Marshall Coleman’s election challenge of the Democratic primary results for Senate District 8.
Circuit Judge Ashley Hines of Greenville, appointed by the state Supreme Court to preside over the case, heard Coleman’s arguments Thursday in Grenada County and dismissed the challenge.
Russell Jolly, a Houston rancher, won the Aug. 2 primary with 44 votes more than the majority needed to avoid the runoff. Jolly had 6,112 votes in the Aug. 2 primary to 3,390 for Coleman and 2,678 for Sherman Carouthers of Okolona.
Jolly was certified by both the state Democratic Party and Mississippi Election Commission, but Coleman filed a challenge alleging voting irregularities.
“We are pleased that the court followed the law and dismissed Mr. Coleman’s petition,” Jolly said. “… We are glad to have the election contest behind us and look forward to continuing to spread our message of job growth, improving public schools, and preserving conservative values.”
Jolly faces Republican nominee Patsy Gregory of Okolona in the Nov. 8 general election.
Contacted Friday, Coleman, a Calhoun City alderman and small business owner, said he did not have a comment about the ruling, other than saying he needed to study it and “we will issue a press release on Monday.”
But Coleman said he does intend to stay in the special election to fill the vacant District 8 seat for the remainder of the year.
Jack Gordon, the longtime Senate 8 incumbent, died earlier this year. State law required Gov. Haley Barbour to set a special election for the post. He set the special election for Nov. 8, the same day as the regular election.
Jolly, Gregory and Coleman have qualified to run in the special election. If no candidate obtains a majority vote in the special election, there will be a runoff between the top two vote-getters three weeks later for a term that will expire on Jan. 3.
District 8 consists of all of Chickasaw and portions of Lee, Grenada and Calhoun counties.
On Nov. 8, District 8 residents will cast a paper ballot for the special election and vote on the machine for the full four-year term.