Judge bars O’Hara from multiple local races in Forrest Co

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A judge said Tuesday that perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara cannot simultaneously run for eight Forrest County offices in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary.

O’Hara said he will appeal Circuit Judge Thomas J. Gardner III’s decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The Forrest County Democratic Party Executive Committee voted March 12 not to certify O’Hara for nine local races. The committee offered to let O’Hara run in one, but he refused to pick a single contest.

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Gardner previously had ruled that circuit court was not the proper venue for O’Hara to argue against the Mississippi Democratic Party’s March 17 decision to certify O’Hara as a candidate only in the state treasurer’s race and not the 11 other statewide and regional races for which he filed qualifying papers.

O’Hara is the only Democrat running for treasurer this year. He has run unsuccessfully for governor and other offices several times under different party labels dating back to 1991.

The general election is Nov. 6.

O’Hara said he wants to get his name back on the Democratic ballot for seven statewide, two district, two legislative and eight county offices.

Current state law does not ban one person from running for multiple offices in the same election.

Lawmakers approved, and Gov. Haley Barbour signed, a bill earlier this year that would put such a ban in place, but the new law must be cleared by the U.S. Justice Department before it can take effect. At the earliest, the new law would be in place July 1, but the ban would not be retroactive.