Georgia state Supreme Court removes Democrat from local judicial race

The Longview News-Journal reported last week, Georgia’s state Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments over whether a Democratic candidate in a local judicial race should be removed from the ballot.

That decision was followed by a ruling on Friday in which the state’s highest judicial body said he needs to go. 

Dispute over how much authority local judge has in the election

According to the News-Journal, justices decided after a hearing last Tuesday that they would entertain an appeal from attorney Scott Camp.

Camp contends that Democrat Ryan Williams should not be running for chief magistrate judge, and he takes issue with an earlier ruling by Douglas County Chief Judge William H. “Beau” McClain.

The paper noted that in July, McClain said he lacked authority under Georgia Code § 21-2-6 to take Williams off the November ballot.

However, McClain did find fault with how Douglas County’s Board of Elections and Registration and county Elections Director Milton Kidd had accepted Williams’ candidacy.

Specifically, the judge pointed to the way in which Williams was put on the ballot outside of the qualifying period when another Democratic candidate was found to be in violation of state law.

Justice accuses the county Board of Elections and Registration of “playing games”

The News-Journal noted that at one point during oral arguments on Tuesday, Justice Charles J. Bethel vented his frustration at the county Board of Elections and Registration in an exchange with its attorney, Jonathan M. Nussbaum.

“It’s remarkable to me that the government is playing games, frankly — and I’m not saying you, counsel, understand,” Bethel told Nussbaum.

“But the government you represent is playing games with the process of qualifying candidates for office in a democratic society,” the justice continued.

“That’s just staggering to me that we’re sitting here saying, ‘Well, you meet these qualifications, and these qualifications over here, they’re only process qualifications.’ That’s hard for me to wrap my mind around,” Bethel concluded.

Meanwhile, the Douglas County Sentinel reported on Friday that Georgia’s Supreme Court found McClain had erred by concluding he had no authority to take William’s name off the ballot before voters go to the polls.