The Secretary of State Election’s Office, The GAGOP, and House District 3

A spat of sorts has formed between the Georgia Republican Party and the Secretary of State’s office in regards to the reopening of qualifying in House District 3.  You may remember that State Representative Tom Weldon qualified…and then changed his mind and withdrew from the race.  That spurred the Catoosa GOP to pass a resolution urging the GAGOP executive committee to reopen qualifying since the incumbent withdrew. Which we did.

Now, the Secretary of State’s office has made known that they have disqualified the candidates who qualified during that special period due to the paperwork not being filed before a deadline.  The only problem is, at least from my understanding, the Secretary of State’s office had indicated that “anytime Monday” following the end of the special qualifying period was fine.  So, they delivered the paperwork to the Secretary of State’s office after 3p that Monday.  The paperwork and the state’s portion of qualifying fees were accepted by the Secretary of State’s office.  In fact, a press release (still up as of 4:13p 4/14/16) was posted on the Secretary of State’s website announcing the three who had qualified during that special period.  Recently, a staff attorney in the Secretary of State’s office said that the deadline for the paperwork was actually noon on said Monday and that the three who qualified during the reopened qualifying were disqualified…although a deadline isn’t specified in OCGA § 21-2-155 and wasn’t made to the Georgia Republican Party staff.

So, this has apparently blown up Facebook with an article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press and now accusations of conspiracy and incompetence are being made.  I don’t believe those are fair implications to be made about the Georgia Republican Party and the staffers who try to insure candidates are qualified correctly and on-time.  These are professionals who do their best.  This is an odd instance, so it’s not exactly a routine qualifying period.  I believe it’s just a misunderstanding and, frankly, lack of clarity from the Secretary of State’s office.  I’ve talked to Adam Pipkin about the issue facing those who are wanting to qualify in HD3, and he has assured me that the Georgia Republican Party is handling the matter and is doing everything in its power to ensure that those folks who want to be on the Republican ballot in May are on it.

Everyone just calm down and breathe.

UPDATE: The Georgia Republican Party has opened qualifying once again for House District 3. From a press release: 

Due to the withdrawal of the incumbent in State House District 03, the Georgia Republican Party will reopen qualifying for the May 24, 2016 Republican Primary for State House District 03 on Friday, April 15, 2016, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m.. Qualifying shall take place at the Georgia Republican Party Headquarters, 3110 Maple Drive, Suite 150, Atlanta, GA 30305, (404) 257-5559. Candidates must present a picture ID at the time of qualifying. The qualifying fee is $400.00.  


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