Can State Political Parties Overturn Voters ?

Last year, State Sen. Rosalyn Kurita won the Democratic primary for re-election but the state Democratic Party took her off the general election ballot, essentially removing her from office, because she had voted for Republican State Sen. Ron Ramsey for lieutenant governor. The state Republican Party has ruled that House Speaker Kent Williams is not a Republican because he got elected Speaker with Democratic votes and they will deny him the ballot in the Republican primary.

The issue of whether state political parties have the right to overturn the will of the voters may become an issue in the upcoming legislative session. Kurita won a primary election and was removed by the state party. No one doubts Williams would win a Republican primary in Carter County, but the state party won’t let him run as a Republican.

There may be some legislators who have become uncomfortable with the idea that they could run afoul of a state executive committee and be removed from the ballot. There may be a move to require that the political parties establish criteria for such decisions and establish due process rights for candidates before they could be excluded from the ballot. The parties do not have any procedure for Kurita or Williams to appeal a decision to remove them from the ballot; it’s totally at the discretion of the party executive committees.

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