Businessman Perry Parker was running for Southern District Public Service Commissioner, but he won’t be getting a spot on the ballot. Parker who was registered to vote in California during the 2016 election says he considers Covington County his home, however, the State Executive Committee has deemed otherwise citing concerns of Parker’s residency qualifications.
There were three candidates running on the Republican ballot for Southern District PSC and alongside Parker was Dane Maxwell, current mayor of Pascagoula, and Diamondhead businessman Kelvin Schulz. Maxwell challenged Parker’s residency citing election laws which state that a candidate running for PSC must live in the state for at least five years.
While Parker says he has been previously registered to vote in both California and Connecticut, he has owned a home in Seminary for many years.
“One of the things that are asked by lawyers quite often is, did you file homestead exemption? Technically I don’t own a home,” said Parker. “My wife and I own a corporation that owns a home. A corporation cannot file homestead exemption in the state of Mississippi. So, people ask why did you do that? It’s because of liability, I guess. I never thought about it when we did it, a lawyer told me to do it and I did it.”
Lucien Smith, head of the Mississippi GOP said the decision to take Parker off the ballot was not personal.
“Perry is an immensely talented guy,” said Smith. He has been wildly successful in business and I very much hope that whether it is in this cycle, or some future election that he will seek office again and be elected. I think he is a very capable guy.”
“The committee decided that in our view, Mr. Parker didn’t meet the five-year citizenship requirement as we understand the law to be. The law in Mississippi, as argued to us, is that citizenship means where you are domiciled. There is a very particular body of law that the state supreme court has laid out about what domicile means. They say you look to things like where do you vote, where are you registered to vote, where do you file homestead exemptions, where do you have your mail and your bills send? Where do you have your drivers license? We reviewed those things and determined that in our view he hadn’t been domiciled here prior to 2017.”
Smith added that their main concern would have been if Parker were to win the primary in August, the Democrat candidate would be able to take him off of the November ballot. If Parker decides to appeal the board’s decision, Smith said there is an expedited appeals process for this issue. If a court comes back saying that Parker has been domiciled in the state for five years, then he will be put back on the ballot.
“100% I understand it, I also know that there is risk in life and the Republican party was not willing to take any risk. There was a very little risk though because once I win on August 6th I would go into court as the Republican Primary winner. It is a different battle and probably financially, it’s a different battle. I get that there is absolutely a little bit of risk for the Republican party, but I am disappointed that the Republican party didn’t choose to take that risk so that the voters of the Southern District could decide.”
Parker’s residency was not an issue during his bid for the Third Congressional District seat as federal election laws only require a political candidate to live in the state for a year. However, Parker says he never considered it as being an issue then or now.
He now has to make a decision as to whether or not he will contend the issue. Parker said his timeline to make the final decision is Tuesday afternoon, March 26th.