Bob Hickingbottom (left - AP Photos/Rogelio V. Solis) and Brandon Presley (right - P Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
The Mississippi Democratic Party cleared the primary field for Brandon Presley when it disqualified two candidates who sought to run for Governor. The party could appeal today’s ruling that places one of those candidates back on the ballot.
A judge presiding over Bob Hickingbottom’s lawsuit against the Mississippi Democratic Party has ruled that Hickingbottom should be placed on the ballot as a candidate for governor.
Hickingbottom qualified to run for governor as a Democrat. Shortly thereafter, the Mississippi Democratic Party disqualified Hickingbottom, along with another gubernatorial candidate, Greg Wash.
Their disqualification cleared the field for presumptive Democratic Party favorite Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, leaving Presley as the lone candidate on the August primary ballot.
Hickingbottom sued the Mississippi Democratic Party, challenging their basis for disqualification. Judge Forrest Johnson was appointed as a special judge to hear the case.
Today, Judge Johnson ruled in Hickingbottom’s favor.
Johnson explained from the bench that Hickingbottom had met all of the constitutional qualifications to run for governor. The judge also mentioned that disqualifying Hickingbottom not only prevented him from seeking the office, but it took from voters the right to decide who best represents them.
“Mr. Hickingbottom is appreciative of the Court’s ruling,” attorney John Reeves told Magnolia Tribune.
Barring a successful appeal, Hickingbottom will now face Presley as the two seek the Democratic Party nomination. The winner of the primary will then move on to the General Election to face the Republican nominee, likely the incumbent Governor Tate Reeves, and Independent candidate Gwendolyn Gray. Reeves has two Republican primary opponents–John Witcher and David Hardigree.
READ MORE: Disqualified gubernatorial candidate Hickingbottom files lawsuit against Mississippi Democratic Party
In the action, Hickingbottom stated that the party disqualified him over not filing campaign finance reports from his failed 2019 campaign as well as not timely filing a Statement of Economic Interest with the Ethics Commission.
The lawsuit claimed the Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Committee held a hearing on the matter and ultimately voted against Hickingbottom’s certification stating that he “did not meet the statutory requirements” but did not state which requirements were not met.
Judge Johnson found that the Mississippi Democratic Party had imposed new requirements not found in the constitution or law to disqualify Hickingbottom.
Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Director Andre Wagner told Magnolia Tribune that the party is weighing its options.
“We don’t discuss continuing legal matters, but we are seeking all legal options,” Wagner said.
The written order memorializing Judge Johnson’s ruling is expected to be entered late Friday.
You can read the order from Judge Johnson below.
The Mississippi Democratic Party has now appealed the ruling. Magnolia Tribune will continue to follow this case as it develops.