By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Democrats plan to choose a new nominee to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo in the Nov. 6 general election.
Democratic chairman Rickey Cole told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Michael Herrington of Hattiesburg has filed papers to withdraw from the 4th District race in the southern part of the state.
“His mother got sick. They got overwhelmed with some financial stuff. They tried to start a restaurant and the business fell in on them,” Cole said in a phone interview from Charlotte, N.C., where he is attending the Democratic National Convention.
Herrington won the party nomination in March and ran a low-profile campaign. Herrington did not return repeated calls to AP during the summer, and he did not file a campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission. His campaign website was not working Tuesday.
Cole said the party needs to choose quickly.
“Those of us who are in Charlotte are going to confer with those who are not in Charlotte,” he said.
Mississippi law says that if a nominee withdraws for a “legitimate nonpolitical reason,” a new nominee may be put on the general election ballot. It says those reasons include reasons of health, family crises or a substantial business conflict.
It was not immediately clear whether Republicans would try to block Democrats from choosing a new nominee by questioning whether Herrington is withdrawing for a nonpolitical reason.
The secretary of state must provide general-election sample ballots to county election commissioners by Sept. 12.
Palazzo, of Biloxi, unseated longtime Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis in November 2010 in a campaign that focused on unseating Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California as Speaker of the House. Republicans won the majority, and the GOP’s John Boehner of Ohio succeeded Pelosi as speaker.
The two challengers remaining in the 4th District race, Libertarian Ron Williams of Moss Point and Reform Party candidate Robert Claunch of Diamondhead, have not filed campaign finance reports, according to the FEC website. Palazzo reported $254,013 in his campaign fund as of June 30, the most recent filing deadline.