Probate judge says local political scene has been quiet

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 5, 2002

Messenger Publisher

Bill Stone isn’t making any bets about today’s qualifying deadline for local Republican and Democratic primary elections.

"There’s just something about the last day," the Pike County Probate Judge said on Thursday.

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Qualifying for the party primaries ends at 5 p.m. today. Six county-level offices are up for election: revenue commissioner, sheriff, coroner, superintendent of Pike County Schools, and District 1 and District 2 representatives on the Pike County Board of Education.

For the primaries, which will be held June 4, candidates must first qualify with the local party chairmen. In Pike County, those chairmen are Lawrence Bowden for the Republican Party and John Key for the Democratic Party.

The party chairmen then submits approved qualifying papers to the Probate Judge’s office and the Secretary of State. Stone said parties have until 5 days after the qualifying deadline to file the final list of qualifiers in his office. "So what I have today may not be the final list," he said. "There could be qualifying papers sitting on the party chairman’s desk."

As of Thursday at 4 p.m., the only qualifiers who had filed with the Probate Judge’s office were four incumbents: Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair, Sheriff Russell Thomas, Coroner Jerry H. Williams and BOE District 1 member Earnest Green, all of whom qualified as Democrats.

The other incumbents are Superintendent John Key and BOE District 2 member Norman Chandler.

Also on the ballot are state House of Representatives District 89 and state Senate District 30 seats held respectively by Alan Boothe, D-Troy, and Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne, and all statewide offices. While campaigning has been heavy among gubernatorial candidates, Stone said the local political scene has been quieter.

"The closer we get to the election, the quieter it has gotten," he said. "Of course, we could have one or two people come at the last minute to qualify, but I don’t know who those people would be."

Stone said candidates often adhere to one of two theories on qualifying:

"The first is to qualify on the very first day, so you leave absolutely no doubt that you’re running," he said. "The second is to wait until the last day, last minute to see what kind of opposition you’ll have."

Primary runoffs are June 25 and the general election is Nov. 5.