After running unopposed, District 25 Sen. Walter Michel now has a Democratic challenger in the 2019 election.
Michel, a Republican, qualified to run for the District 25 seat on March 1, the qualifying deadline.
On March 2, when the secretary of state released its list of qualifying candidates, Michel was unopposed.
However, last week, once the final list of candidates was released, Michel found out that he in fact did have a challenger, Earl Scales, a Democrat, and an assistant attorney general with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
According to a letter sent to the secretary of state’s office, Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Moak said Scales initially qualified to run in the District 22 race. The letter asked the secretary of state’s office to “please place candidate Earl Scales in the legal district” that corresponds to his residential address.
Moak said Scales initially was in District 22 but was moved to District 25 following the court-ordered redrawing of Scales' previous district, which the court determined had been gerrymandered.
Lines for the district, which stretches into south Madison County, were re-drawn recently.
“We had people who had qualified believing they were in a certain district, but then because of residency would be moved to another district,” Moak said.
He said several qualifying candidates for Districts 22, 23 and 13 were affected by the redrawing.
Michel, though, said his district was not affected by redrawing of lines, and that no one was moved in or out as a result.
Scales lists his mailing address as 100 Westminster Court, Madison. Michel said that address is in the Newcastle neighborhood on Mississippi 463.
“He (Scales) was never in District 22. He lives outside Annandale, which has always been in my district,” he said. “When he filed to run in District 22, he was in my district.”
Michel said the Mississippi Republican Party is looking into the matter.
He believes the decision to allow Scales to change races will set a bad precedent.
“If it works this time, during the next election let’s go find 20 people, get them to put the wrong district down, wait 90 days and send a letter to the secretary of state,” Michel said. “It’s a trick we never thought about.”
Leah Rupp Smith, with the secretary of state’s office, said her office does not qualify candidates for the party primaries and that we should reach out to the individual parties.
Republican Party officials were not immediately available for comment. Scales also couldn’t be reached.
A copy of Moak’s letter can be found by clicking here: https://www.northsidesun.com/sites/default/files/Moak%20letter.pdf
Scales’ qualifying papers can be found by clicking here: https://www.northsidesun.com/sites/default/files/Earl%20Scales.%20Redact...