Mississippi Democrats improperly excluded candidate for governor, judge says

Mississippi could face a Democratic primary for governor in August after a judge ruled Friday that the party wrongly disqualified a candidate from voting.

The state’s Democratic Party promptly announced that it would petition the Mississippi Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s verdict on Bob Hickingbottom’s candidacy.

“I appreciate the consideration of the court. We hope for a more favorable decision on appeal,” committee counsel Gerald Mumford told The Associated Press.

The state’s Democratic Executive Committee ruled in February that Hickingbottom could not vote as a Democrat. Hickingbottom, who describes himself as a political activist, ran as the Constitutional Party candidate for governor in 2019.

The Executive Committee also barred Gregory Wash from running for governor this year after he ran a low-budget campaign for governor in the Democratic primary four years ago.

The party’s decisions left Brandon Presley, a four-year civil service commissioner, as the only Democratic candidate for governor. Wash did not appeal the party’s decision, but Hickingbottom filed suit.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is seeking a second term and faces two challengers in the GOP primary: military veteran David Hardigree and physician Dr. John Witcher.

The Mississippi primary is on August 8th and the general election is on November 7th.

Presley campaign spokesman Michael Beyer on Friday responded to questions about a possible Democratic primary by focusing on a case of welfare abuse that developed during Reeves’ tenure as lieutenant governor.

“We welcome any legally qualified candidate entering the race, and our campaign will continue to focus on Tate Reeves’ failed record of allowing criminals to use $77 million of Mississippi residents’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars to spend on working people.” Families were meant to spend senselessly on luxury cars and steak dinners.” And even a volleyball stadium,” said Beyer.

Judge Forrest A. Johnson Jr. wrote that the Democratic Party could not reject Hickingbottom’s candidacy on the grounds that Hickinbottom failed to file a declaration of economic interests with the Ethics Committee.

Johnson wrote that Hickingbottom met the requirements for running for governor laid down in the state constitution: a candidate must be at least 30 years old, a US citizen at least 20 years old, and a resident of Mississippi for at least five years prior to the election.

Hickingbottom is Black and Presley is White. Gaining the support of black voters is an important part of winning a Democratic primary. Presley’s campaign made no mention of Friday’s race, but Frank Bordeaux, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, did.

“Brandon Presley and his allies in the Democratic Party corruptly pushed his African American opponent off the ballot,” Bordeaux said in a statement. “A judge has just ruled that her actions are illegal and unethical, and now Presley faces a major challenge. Why did Brandon Presley work so hard to deny an African American candidate access to the ballot?”

HIckingbottom filed a campaign finance report this month showing it hadn’t raised and spent any money until April. Presley reported $1.6 million in his campaign fund.

Reeves reported $9 million in campaign funds, while Witcher reported about $21,000 and Hardigree reported no money.

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing russellfalcon@ustimespost.com.

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