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Mississippi Supreme Court boots Hickingbottom off ballot in ‘final’ decision

Photo courtesy of Bob Hickingbottom/Facebook

In what’s been a whirlwind of events for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Hickingbottom, the Mississippi Supreme Court made the final decision Thursday to remove Hickingbottom from this year’s ballot.

Hickingbottom, who had set out to run for governor for the second time in his career, was originally booted off the ballot in February with party officials citing that the Jackson native failed to submit a statement of economic interest (SOEI) in time to seek office.

Following the disqualification, Hickingbottom and his attorney took the case of the Hinds County Circuit Court, where they argued that SOEIs have never been a criterion for qualifying candidates in Mississippi – a claim Secretary of State Michael Watson later validated on an episode of The Gallo Show.

“By statute, that is not a requirement to be qualified to run for office,” Watson said at the time. “They can clearly file that and have some deadlines to meet that, but you don’t have to do that to be qualified to run for office.”

The Hinds County judge eventually ruled in Hickingbottom’s favor, spurring the Mississippi Democratic Party to appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court with the argument that Hickingbottom failed to file a petition challenging his disqualification in the required time by law.

Court records show Hickingbottom filed his petition for judicial review 75 days after the party informed him of his disqualification. By law, a petition for judicial review must be filed within 15 days of the decision being challenged – giving the Supreme Court precedent to disqualify Hickingbottom from the race.

“Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court’s judgment and render judgment finally dismissing with prejudice Hickingbottom’s petition for judicial review as untimely reviewed,” a portion of the opinion reads. “This Court also finds that, in light of the impending ballot deadlines for the August 8, 2023, primary election, it is necessary that our decision be final.”

With the Supreme Court’s ruling, Democratic frontrunner Brandon Presley will run unopposed in the primary before an expected matchup against incumbent Governor Tate Reeves in the general election.

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