By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Democrat John McGaugh has pulled out of the race for Lee County superintendent, although his name will remain on the ballot, which has already been printed.
McGaugh said he decided to withdraw on June 27 because of personal health reasons.
“I was disappointed about it, but that was what I needed to do,” he said. “Health and family come before elections.
“I’m doing better and as long as I do what I’m told to do, I’ll be fine.”
McGaugh’s exit from the race would leave incumbent Mike Scott as the lone Democratic challenger to be the school district’s leader. However, the chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party said that someone would continue to run McGaugh’s campaign.
Eric Hampton has been involved in a dispute with Scott since Hampton demanded that Scott resign last summer because of an affair Scott had with a district employee.
Scott later sued Hampton and state Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Franks for trying to extort, defame and interfere with his employment. Scott’s affair took place with Franks’ ex-wife.
“Someone will pick up (McGaugh’s) campaign,” Hampton said. “McGaugh is still in the race, and he can still win.
“I’ll do whatever it takes legally for Mike Scott not to be elected. Lee County deserves someone better than Mike Scott.”
Scott declined to comment on Hampton’s remarks.
McGaugh sent his withdrawal letter to the Lee County Democratic Party on June 28, and it was also presented to the Lee County Circuit Clerk’s office. However, Hampton cited an attorney general’s opinion that once a name is printed on a ballot, it can not lawfully be omitted.
That said, McGaugh said that he has no plans to change his mind.
The winner of the Democratic nomination will face the Republican winner in the Nov. 8 general election. Assistant Superintendent Jimmy Weeks and Shannon High School Principal Robert Smith will meet in the Aug. 2 Republican primary.
McGaugh, 57, retired three years ago as Saltillo Primary principal. He spent 31 years as an educator, including 20 as an administrator, and has been working for a company that sells technology equipment to schools.
“I will continue to love and support Lee County Schools in whatever ways I can,” he said.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.