Democrats leave Hunter on ballot

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2008


The Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Committee will allow District 4 Commissioner Clifford Hunter on its ballot in the June 3 primary.

The committee held a hearing Friday to determine Hunter&8217;s eligibility.

Email newsletter signup

Larry Nickels, Hunter&8217;s opponent on the ballot, filed a challenge April 9, saying Hunter&8217;s name should not appear on the Democratic ballot because he had run as a Freedom Party candidate four years ago in a race for the county board of education.

Hunter&8217;s candidacy for the school board would place him in violation of the Radney Rule, which requires Democrats to have voted in the Democratic primary four years prior to running for office.

Hunter lost the school board race in 2006. Last year, Republican Gov. Bob Riley appointed Hunter to the commissioner&8217;s seat vacated by Kim Ballard, who became probate judge.

On Friday, a five-member committee appointed by James Perkins Jr., the county&8217;s Democratic Executive Committee&8217;s chairman, heard the challenge before going into closed door session with the Democratic executive committee

to deliberate for 30 minutes on whether the executive board would hear Hunter&8217;s case.

After the closed-door session, the committee announced the executive committee would allow Hunter to renounce his allegiance with the Freedom Party and remain on the Democratic Party ballot.

Nickels&8217;s attorney, Tommy Atchison of Selma put his head in his hands as the executive committee voted.

After the vote he said any appeal would be up to Nickels.

Hunter and his attorney, J.L. Chestnut Jr. of Selma, maintained Hunter has always voted as a Democrat, but did not deny Hunter&8217;s affiliation with the Freedom Party.

Hunter also said he never represented himself as a Republican to have the governor appoint him to the commissioner&8217;s post. He said he was recommended by his pastor, the Rev. Gary Crum.