JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Utility regulator Brandon Presley is now uncontested for the Democratic nomination for Mississippi governor this year after the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that another Democratic candidate waited too long to challenge being kept off the ballot.
Presley is trying to block Republican Gov. Tate Reeves from winning a second term in a deeply conservative state where the GOP holds all statewide offices.
Justices ruled that Bob Hickingbottom waited too long to ask a judge to put him on the Democratic primary ballot after the state party’s executive committee excluded him in February. The Supreme Court reversed a decision issued May 26 by Circuit Judge Forrest A. Johnson Jr., who was appointed to hear the case.
Hickingbottom describes himself as a political operative and has reported raising no money for this year’s race. He ran a low-budget campaign for governor as a Constitution Party candidate four years ago and received less than 1% of the statewide vote.
Justices wrote that Hickingbottom “blatantly failed to comply with the timeliness mandate” in filing an appeal of being excluded from this year’s primary ballot. State law says an appeal must be filed within 15 days. Hickingbottom waited 75 days, according to court documents.
The state Democratic Executive Committee decided in February that Hickingbottom and another man, Gregory Wash, could not be on the party primary ballot for governor because they had failed to file statements of economic interest with the state Ethics Commission. Wash ran a low-budget campaign for governor in the Democratic primary four years ago. Wash did not challenge the party’s decision this year, but Hickingbottom filed a lawsuit.
Presley is in his fourth term as the state’s northern district public service commissioner.
Reeves is seeking a second term, and he faces two challengers in the GOP primary — military veteran David Hardigree and physician Dr. John Witcher.
Primaries are Aug. 8, and the general election is Nov. 7.