Thursday, September 29, 2016

Judge upholds unopposed new nominee for state House seat

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:51 PM

Circuit Judge Dennis Sutterfield today denied a challenge to the method being used to fill a vacancy in nomination for a state House seat.

State Rep. Bill Gossage, an Ozark Republican, was unopposed for re-election, but resigned from the race to take a job on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's staff. The Republican Party picked Sarah Capp to be its nominee in his place and they contended no one else had the opportunity to offer a candidate.

Lonnie Turner, an Ozark lawyer, sued. The Democratic Party agreed that the Arkansas Constitution required an election for such a vacancy, with an opportunity for Democrats to run.

Chris Burks, Democratic Party attorney, reports that the judge disagreed. He held that the constitution's reference to elections applied only to vacancies in office. The Democratic Party argued that the difference in vacancies in office and vacancies in nomination doesn't exist in the Constitution, but was a creation of the legislature.

Democrats also argued unsuccessfully that the Legislature's creation of special circumstances where voters are not allowed the opportunity to vote contravenes the Constitution.


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