COLUMBUS, Ga. – Two disqualified Muscogee County sheriff’s candidates are making one final push before election day Tuesday to make it back on the May 24 ballot. However, in what seemed like a final blow to Democrats Pam Brown and Robert Smith, the Elections Board adjourned an emergency meeting Monday without reinstating the two.
Attorneys for both Brown and Smith were present, as well as Republican candidate Mark LaJoye. Donna Tompkins, a previously disqualified Democratic contender, did not attend the special meeting. Attorney Mark Shelnutt represents Brown. He says the ruling one judge made last week about reinstating LaJoye and Tompkins should apply to his client and Smith. He believes the Elections Board has the power to distribute that ruling equally to apply to all the candidates.
However, Director of the Elections Board and Voter Registration Nancy Boren says that power goes beyond the board’s realm.
“What the board does do is apply the law evenly across the board, which it has done in all four cases that we’ve looked at for the Office of Sheriff,” Boren explained.
“It’s wrong, it’s an outrage,” Shelnutt told News 3 Monday after the emergency meeting.
Shelnutt could not explain why the board did not take his request into consideration. News 3 asked Boren to describe what happened when Shelnutt made a request for the Elections Board to consider the second judge’s ruling in favor of reinstatement.
“The request died for lack of a motion, a lack of a second, and lack of a discussion,” Boren said. “So as it stands the board will abide by the rulings of the judges in both cases.”
Confusion arose when, during the meeting, an attorney stated that a motion must be made to consider Shelnutt’s request. None was ever made. Instead, the board adjourned the meeting.
“They have disqualified both of us,” Brown said. “And I thought we were past those days.”
Brown is alluding to the fact that this election debacle might be racially motivated. When asked about accusations of being prejudiced against certain candidates over others, the Elections Board stated that they do not address accusations.
“If I have to file a complaint with the Secretary of State (Brian Kemp), the feds or whoever I must file a complaint with, I will file a complaint all the way to the White House if I have to,” Brown said.
Smith says that before he considers other campaign options, such as running as a write-in candidate or as an Independent, he wanted to see whether he could still make the Democratic ballot. He tells News 3 he fully supports Brown.
“I’m not going to sit back,” Smith said. “I’m going to fight with Ms. Brown 100%.”
Current Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr is running for reelection in November as an Independent candidate. He notes the community’s interest in the two-month long sheriff’s race saga.
“It’s interesting because of everything that’s gone along with the individuals that have been disqualified,” Darr said. “And then some candidates were reinstated by the judge. So yes, from that standpoint this will be interesting for people in the community.”