GOP uproots Flower’s campaign

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 16, 2002

BNI Newswire

BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Republican Party on Monday disqualified former State Rep. Steve Flowers from the District 14 State Senate race.

The 21-member Candidate Election Committee of the Republican Party of Alabama voted unanimously to disqualify Flowers for his "inability to provide evidence he fulfilled eligibility requirements."

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The decision was handed down Monday afternoon after the board heard evidence from those parties who had filed a complaint and representatives from Flowers’ campaign.

"We heard evidence from both sides and did not feel that Mr. Flowers provided evidence needed to prove he has lived in the district for a minimum of one year," said Marty Conners, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and one of the voting board members. "It boiled down to the fact that residency is where you have lived, not where you own property or hope to live." According to media reports, the complaint was filed by Carlton LeMond, a retired farmer near Montevallo in Shelby County.

The complaint contested Flowers had not lived in the district for a year prior to the upcoming June 4 primary. The district seat Flowers, along with fellow candidates Hank Erwin, Mike Morton and Don Murphy, were campaigning for is the one left vacant by Sen. Bill Armistead’s current run for lieutenant governor. The district is a newly drawn district, incorporating all of Chilton County and portions of Shelby, Jefferson and Bibb counties.

Filings with the Secretary of States office show Flowers’ address to be 1905 River Woods Road in Riverchase. Flowers told The Clanton Advertiser Friday he owns another house at 2006 Water Edge in Riverchase, where he said he claims a homestead exemption.

In the four-man race, Flowers had been the most active of all the candidates raising more money and spending more money than any other.

"Justice has been done," said Erwin Monday following the decision.

"We felt like there were serious questions regard his residency and we are glad the party looked into the matter."

Erwin said the doubt surrounding Flowers’ residency was there from the start, but said the party may have assumed everything was in order.

"Once a thorough background check was done it became obvious that he did not fulfill the requirements," Erwin said.

But Erwin is sure this will not be the last heard from his opponent.

"I am sure he will appeal. I believe he has said as much," Erwin said.

Conners said Flowers may appeal the decision to the state courts but is not sure where that will lead.

"The party has reached a decision in this matter,"

Conners said. "As far as we are concerned the matter is over and done with." Flowers spent 16 years in the state House of Representatives representing Troy. He moved to the Birmingham area in 1998.

According to Conners, Flowers served his tenure in the House as a Democrat but switched parties four years ago.

The Clanton Advertiser was unable to reach Flowers Monday.