It was no surprise that my post on Tuesday regarding the Todd Wade saga sparked much discussion. I knew this had the potential to be a hot topic for many reasons across the state. Yet, I also knew what had to be done if no hard evidence was presented to the Board of Election Commissioners, and that it would not be something I or any other conservative wanted to see.
Even now after the 2-1 vote by the Election Commission I maintain that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann did his job effectively and ensured the rule of law as set forth in the Mississippi Constitution. He is the state’s chief elections officer and is sworn to uphold the law, even if it negatively affects his own political party.
Amidst the fallout of Tuesday’s ruling come questions concerning the timing of this issue and what motivation Hosemann, a Republican, may have for joining Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, in voting to remove Wade’s name from the ballot in Senate District 9, a seat some Republicans believed to be in play.
For anyone to imply any personal ill will on behalf of Hosemann is barking up the wrong tree and seeking to sensationalize the facts. Hosemann simply did his job.
However, what has seemingly been missed in this saga is the role political parties play in primary elections.
In Mississippi, political parties conduct the primaries – that’s just how it is. Up to this point, the state parties – Republican and Democrat – have been in charge of the primary elections and responsible for certifying their candidates. This means that up to now it has been the political parties’ responsibility to verify their candidates’ credentials.
It is only after the party primary elections are over and the political parties have provided the Secretary of State’s office with their candidate lists that the state has any real input. Had Hosemann attempted to delve into primary elections, other than ensuring the fair and honest process, at least one party, possibly both, would have loudly cried foul. As I said, primary elections are run by the political parties.
Hosemann and his staff had no involvement in verifying candidates’ credentials or certifying party primary results until they were delivered to him ten days after the party primaries were held. Heck, the Secretary of State does not even know the official winner of a primary until they certify the results with his office.
Why do you think Hosemann was beating the drum a week or so ago when the parties had not delivered their certified primary results on time? Hosemann knew he and his staff had a job to do and that included reviewing the parties’ list of candidates, ensuring they were in compliance with the law, and then having adequate time to deliver a certified list of candidates to Circuit Clerks around the state for the general election.
It is then up to the Board of Election Commissioners to address any potential concerns overlooked by the political parties and to ensure a legal listing of candidates for the general election.
So the timing of Hosemann’s review and subsequent actions regarding Todd Wade were well within his purview as the chief elections officer in the state as it relates to the primary election system the Secretary of State is required to recognize. Hosemann’s actions are not at all suspect. Further, while it pains me to admit it, any fault for these set of circumstances actually lies both with the candidate and his campaign committee as well as with his political party for not verifying qualifications appropriately and ensuring their candidate met the Constitutional requirement to hold the Senate seat.
Remember, political parties run primary elections, not the Secretary of State’s office.
We also learned Tuesday that the Board of Election Commissioners desperately needs to clearly define a set of rules to address all matters coming before them. It seemed as though the Board was essentially making the rules up as they went along, something that may have worked in decades past, but now with the 24-hour news cycle, new media (blogs) and the like, doing things the way they have always been done simply will not work. Such an important Board must have a clear method to their madness.