By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON – Without debate, the Mississippi Democratic executive committee voted Saturday to let Bill Luckett appear on the party’s Aug. 2 primary ballot for governor.
The committee’s unanimous decision came one day after The Associated Press obtained public documents that raise questions about whether Luckett, a Clarksdale attorney and businessman, meets the constitutional requirement of being a Mississippi resident for the five years leading into an election for governor.
AP obtained election commission records from Shelby County, Tenn., that show Luckett voted in Memphis on Nov. 7, 2006. That’s five years and one day before Mississippi’s 2011 general election, which is Nov. 8.
A person registering to vote in Tennessee must sign a statement that he’s a resident of that state.
Luckett, who turns 63 next week, told the AP on Friday that he has lived in Mississippi “over 61 years straight” and has owned multiple homes, including several in Tennessee.
No formal complaint about Luckett’s Mississippi residency was filed with the Democratic executive committee, said Willie Griffin of Greenville, an attorney who serves on the group’s elections subcommittee.
Griffin said that because there was no complaint, there was no need to discuss whether Luckett meets the constitutional residency requirement.
“I know Mr. Luckett personally, and he has been a resident of Coahoma County for many, many decades,” Griffin said outside the executive committee meeting.
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour can’t seek a third term this year, leaving an open race for the state’s top job.
Luckett and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree are considered the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic executive committee would have dramatically changed the governor’s race if it had removed Luckett from the ballot.
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant of Brandon and Pass Christian businessman Dave Dennis are among the Republicans running for governor.
The committee also decided not to allow Shawn O’Hara to run for Mississippi treasurer as a Democrat because he signed up to run for that office, and governor, as a Reform Party candidate.