Flowers remains on state ballots

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 26, 2002

BNI Newswire

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of the Steve Flowers’ senatorial campaign, keeping Flowers on the ballot and in the race.

The 9-member court voted 5-3 in favor of Flowers in the appeal filed by the Secretary of State and the State of Alabama. The appeal was filed Tuesday after Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Charles Price ruled to keep Flowers on the ballot.

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The ruling Thursday prevents the Republican Party from removing Flowers from the ballot after they had elected to disqualify him on April 15.

"That was their [state and GOP] chance," Flowers said following the ruling. "Now the people will get their chance to decide."

The Supreme Court upheld Price’s ruling that the Republican Party had missed the deadline for removing Flowers’ name. The deadline for removing names is 50 days prior to the election.

"We are ecstatic with the court’s ruling," Flowers said. "The people of District 14 will be allowed to select their next senator in a democratic fashion. They will not have the choice made for them by some back-room meeting in some hotel."

Flowers was referring to the April 15 meeting by the GOP candidate committee that ruled Flowers had not provided adequate evidence he had lived in District 14 for at least one year.

"It is now up to the people of this district," said candidate Hank Erwin. "I think we have a lot of wise voters in this district and I believe they will ultimately make the wise decision."

Flowers has argued since it began that Erwin was behind the investigation and eventually the ruling that disqualified him from the race.

Following the ruling on April 15, Flowers was able to get a temporary restraining order on the release of state ballots last Friday. On Monday, attorneys for Flowers and the state presented arguments to Price who issued his findings on Tuesday.

The state appealed to the Supreme Court, which called a special hearing for Wednesday.

"The quick response by the Supreme Court just proves how solid Judge Prices’ ruling was," Flowers said. "The only thing I ever wanted out of this legal battle was to give the people of the district the chance to select their next senator. They haven’t had one in eight years and I wanted to make sure they had a chance to decide by their vote."

Wednesday was the deadline for ballots to be printed and prepared so absentee ballots may be mailed out.

Erwin, who some consider in second place in the race behind Flowers, said he and his campaign are still confident about their chances.

"I think it is going to be a very competitive race," Erwin said. "We are real satisfied with our grassroots campaign and we will becoming more visible as the primary gets closer.

"We are real pleased, but we have some work to do."

The other two candidates in the District 14 senate race, Mike Morton and Don Murphy, could not be reached for comment.