A judge has ruled a special election to determine a Democratic nominee for Stone County Sheriff will go on as scheduled, despite a pending lawsuit over the election's legality.
The controversy started after a run-off in the Democratic election ended with a tie between Lance Bonds and incumbent Sheriff Todd Hudspeth. Governor Mike Beebe issued a proclamation setting a special election.
The Republican candidate filed suit
claiming state law doesn't allow for a special election in this case, therefore both Democratic candidates should be disqualified.
"I feel like they need to decide a democratic nominee for the November election,” says Bonds. “I think that's their right to do that."
With judge Jay Moody's ruling allowing Tuesday’s special election to go forward, Bonds will get another chance to become that nominee.
"They had two Democrats running for sheriff up there and they tied. They had a special election and they tied again. Then they asked me to set a special election and I did,” says Gov. Beebe. “The Republican nominee didn't want an opponent and he's challenged it in court."
"I don't have a problem running against a candidate,” says Republican nominee Russ Aiken. “I have no problem with them picking a candidate. My problem is whether the candidate that's pick is done legally."
Aiken unsuccessfully petitioned for a restraining order to stop the special election while his lawsuit over the matter is decided. He says state law doesn't allow for it so the election is illegal.
"My beliefs is they circumvented the law," says Aiken.
Aiken says he hoped the restraining order would save taxpayers the $32,000 cost to put on the election. He doesn't believe today's ruling damages the merits of his case; he can't wait to go to court.
"I want the government and the election commission to uphold the law and abide by the law and not rewrite the law," said Aiken.
"The issue is whether the Stone County Election Commission has followed the law,” says Greg Olman, Lance’s attorney. “We believe they have."
The judge didn't give an exact date for the hearing over the legality of the election but it is time sensitive; the nominee has to be determined and ready for the a ballot at least 70 days before the November general election.