Bob Hickingbottom (left - AP Photos/Rogelio V. Solis) and Brandon Presley (right - P Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
The Mississippi Supreme Court has removed Bob Hickingbottom from the Democratic Party ballot, leaving gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley solely at the top of the Democratic ticket.
Brandon Presley will be unopposed in the Mississippi Democratic Party Primary after all.
On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed special appointed Judge Forrest Johnson’s decision that placed Democratic candidate Bob Hickingbottom back on the party’s primary ballot. The justices cited that Hickingbottom failed to timely file his petition for judicial review, and therefore his petition was time barred.
The Mississippi Democratic Party had filed the appeal with the state Supreme Court following Hickingbottom’s win at the circuit court level. Judge Johnson explained at the time that Hickingbottom had met all of the constitutional qualifications to run for governor and found that the Mississippi Democratic Party had imposed new requirements not found in the constitution or law to disqualify Hickingbottom. Judge Johnson also stated that Hickingbottom’s delay in filing a petition for judicial review did not outweigh his “right of ballot access in this case.”
However, the state Supreme Court disagreed. In their ruling, the Court states that Hickingbottom’s petition was indeed untimely filed and at the center of the issue at hand.
According to the law, a petition for judicial review must be filed no later than fifteen days after the date the petition was originally filed with the appropriate executive committee, in this case the Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee. Hickingbottom filed his petition challenging his disqualification 82 days after the original challenge to his candidacy was filed with the party by Jim Newman and 75 days after the party notified him of their decision to disqualify him.
The justices stated that Hickingbottom failed to comply with the timely filing provision and “further failed to give either this Court or the circuit court any grounds whatsoever to possibly warrant an excuse for his excessive untimeliness.”
Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court’s judgment and render judgment finally dismissing with prejudice Hickingbottom’s petition for judicial review as untimely filed. This Court also finds that, in light of the impending ballot deadlines for the August 8, 2023 primary election, it is necessary that our decision be final. Therefore, under Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 2(c), we find that no motion for rehearing will be allowed and that this opinion shall be deemed final in all respects.
You can read the full opinion from the Mississippi Supreme Court here.