ATLANTA UPDATE: A hearing has been scheduled for 4 p.m. today at the Fulton County Courthouse to determine whether Secretary of State Brian Kemp's order invalidating Richie Smith as a candidate in the District 151 race should be upheld. Below is the original story that moved earlier today.
The Democratic Party of Georgia is asking for an emergency hearing today on the secretary of state's decision to remove Democrat Richie Smith from the House District 151 race in Tuesday's party primary elections.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp disqualified Smith last week when a resident of the district challenged his candidacy over a tax issue. A hearing was conducted on the issue that Kemp said Smith did not attend, leading to his action.
State Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, has no opposition for the seat from within his own party on Tuesday. If Smith is ruled eligible, he and Greene would face off in the Nov. 6 general election.
Democratic Party officials contend the taxes on an automobile Smith purchased in 1995 had been paid and that Smith was never notified of the court proceeding. Party officials say the state Constitution provides that an ineligible candidate may be ruled eligible at any time once due taxes are paid.
“The Georgia Constitution protects all Georgians. Our constitution trumps all other statutes, case laws, and administrative rulings. And our Constitution clearly states that ‘at any time’, a candidate can cure any tax deficiencies," said Quinton Washington, partner and lead counsel at Bell & Washington LLP and lead counsel for Smith. "We believe that the plain language of the Constitution -- when applied in a court of law -- will ensure that Mr. Smith is reaffirmed as a candidate in the House District 151 race.
"The people of Georgia deserve a choice and without Mr. Smith on the ballot the voters will be deprived of a choice when they go to the polls on Tuesday.”
Party officials expect the emergency hearing to be held today.