By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – The three-member state Elections Commission postponed approving the statewide ballot for the Nov. 6 election to gather more information on the 4th Congressional District race.
The commission, which consists of the governor, secretary of state and attorney general, debated Monday whether to allow the state Democratic Party to replace Michael Herrington of Hattiesburg, who withdrew as the party’s nominee for the 4th District seat in south Mississippi.
If a candidate drops out for certain reasons, such as illness or a family issue, the party can name a replacement nominee.
Herrington sent two affidavits saying he was dropping out for reasons that would allow the party to name a new nominee. But Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, both Republicans, argued Monday the first affidavit was not specific and the second – citing family issues – was delivered to them, via a faxed copy, minutes before Monday’s meeting,
In addition, Bryant said there were blog reports stating Herrington intended to get back in the race. Bryant said he wanted to be careful to ensure that a party did not replace a weaker nominee with a stronger one.
Mike Lanford, a deputy attorney general, representing Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood, said it appeared Herrington had met his legal obligation. Plus, information provided by the Secretary of State indicated Matthew Moore of Biloxi, who is the state Democratic Party’s choice to run for the post, was qualified to seek the U.S. House seat.
“Does anybody have any evidence contrary to the affidavit?” Lanford asked.
Mike Wallace, an attorney representing the state Republican Party, said it was “a treacherous precedent” to allow the Democrats to name a new nominee.
Republican incumbent Steven Palazzo is viewed as a heavy favorite to win re-election to a second term.
Bryant and Hosemann said they wanted two days to check Herrington’s affidavit before making a final decision, meaning the commission will meet again this week.
At that time, the commission is expected to deal with that issue and approve the November ballot for federal offices, including president and various judicial offices across the state.