Judge rules Cohen opponent can run in Democratic primary, contrary to state party action

Shelby County Chancellor Walter Evans has ruled that M. LaTroy Alexandria-Williams can run as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the August primary, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The Tennessee Democratic Party tried to remove Alexandria-Williams’ name from the Ninth Congressional District primary ballot after the perennial candidate was accused of supporting Republican candidates in violation of party bylaws. 

Alexandria-Williams successfully argued that removing his name after the deadline to run as an independent in the general election would violate his constitutional right to seek public office.

Evans has yet to rule on whether the party committed “constructive fraud,” a legal term meaning the party misled Alexandria-Williams, or whether the party bylaws violate the state constitution, said JB Smiley Jr., Alexandria-Williams’ attorney.

In addition to Alexandria-Williams, Cohen faces Isaac Richmond and Kasandra Smith in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. Charlotte Bergmann is running unopposed for the Republican nomination. Leo Awgowhat pulled a petition to run as an Independent.

Further from the Tri-State Defender:

“We’ll be on the ballot all the way until the election is over,” Alexandria-Williams said on Friday. It’s all about race.”

In Alexandria-Williams’ viewpoint, the Democratic Party in Shelby County is “trying to find a way to get white folks elected in the Democratic Party when the majority is black.”

…(Shelby County Election Commissioner Norma) Lester and Lexie Carter, chairperson of the Shelby County Primary Board, have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction, saying Alexandria-Williams did not receive due process in the matter. They have said (Tennessee Democratic Party Chair)  Mancini took the action without telling them, something that was unusual and that caused unnecessary conflict and confusion.

Mancini is a defendant in the case, along with Linda Phillips, administrator of elections in Shelby County, and Mark Goins, coordinator of elections for Tennessee. Lester said the election commission is not concerned about which candidates make it onto the ballot.

“We’ll gladly comply with the judge’s decision,” Lester said. And while the ruling could be appealed, Lester said, “Whatever the case is, we’re going to follow the law. We don’t have a dog in the race.”

One Response to Judge rules Cohen opponent can run in Democratic primary, contrary to state party action

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    David Collins says:

    The Democratic Party should appeal. The Supreme Court held years ago that questions regarding membership in a political party to run in a party primary is a political question not subject to judicial review. The only exception that can be reviewed is whether or not the political party gave the challenged candidate the opportunity to be heard (viewed as a due process right). As long as the party gave him notice: that his credentials were being challenged; the grounds relied upon; the time and date of the meeting to consider the question; and an opportunity to make his case at said meeting, there is no further judicial review.If however, the above listed requirements of notice, etc. were not followed, then they should not appeal, for they will lose.

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