ATLANTA -- Richie Smith, whose candiacy for House District 151 was disqualified Monday by Secretary of State Brian Kemp over a tax issue, says he will fight the ruling.
There are no other Democrats seeking the position. State Rep. Gerald Greene, 64, a retired educator from Cuthbert, is seeking a new term as a Republican. He has served 29 years in the Legislature, with 27 of those as a Democrat.
In a statement released Tuesday through the Georgia House Democratic Caucus, the 41-year-old Smith said he would appeal the disqualification to Fulton County Superior Court.
"My opponent switched parties after promising to be a Democratic representative, and that's not right," said Smith, a bus driver from Lake. "I will fight to remain on the ballot and to stand for the citizens of District 151. If they want to defeat me, it will be at the ballot box."
Lamar Brand of Blakely filed paperwork challenging Smith's candidacy over what Brand said were back taxes owed by the candidate. Smith failed to show for a hearing on the matter. The hearing officer turned the matter over to Kemp, who announced Monday that Smith was ineligible. It was one of 13 election challenges that Kemp announced final rulings on Monday.
In the statement Tuesday, the Democratic Caucus charged that Brand was a political ally of Greene and is being represented by lawyers who represented Republicans in redistricting. The statement said that Smith was "current on his tax obligations" and had filed a motion for reconsideration.