Miss. Elections Commission: Running as Democrat is Dale’s Only Option

May 4, 2007

The Mississippi Elections Commission said this week that Insurance Commissioner George Dale should not be allowed to seek office this year as an independent.

“The only relief Dale is entitled to would be placement on the Democratic Party’s primary ballot,” Special Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta wrote in legal briefs.

Dale told the Insurance Journal that it doesn’t matter to him which affiliation he runs under – just as long as he is on the ballot.

Last week, Dale asked a circuit court judge to allow him to seek re-election as an independent, even though Democratic Party officials said he could return to the party.

Circuit Judge Henry Lackey gave attorneys from both sides until the end of this week to file briefs, and he is expected to decide Dale’s ballot status early next week.

The party’s executive committee members removed Dale from the ballot in March after questioning his loyalty. In 2004, Dale publicly supported the re-election effort of President Bush.

Dale told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he intends to be on ballots this year, regardless of whether it’s as a Democrat or as an independent.

“I intend to be successful,” said Dale, who has been in office since January 1976 and is the longest serving state insurance commissioner in the nation.

Dale’s attorney told the judge last week that Dale’s ability to win the Democratic primary was hurt by media coverage of the case. But Pizzetta wrote: “To find Dale will not receive fair consideration from Democratic voters would be a discredit to the voting public.”

Pizzetta also wrote that “the requested relief exceeds the jurisdiction and remedial authority of a circuit court.”

Candidates’ qualifying deadline was March 1. Democrats and Republicans paid a fee and filed qualifying papers with their parties. Independents had to submit 1,000 signatures from qualified voters supporting them.

Dale said his attorneys will submit briefs later this week saying they believe Dale has the power to run as an independent.

“The only reason I sought the independent possibility was that after a few Democrats indicated that they didn’t want me on the ballot, when I’d go to church or to the coffee shop, people would say, ‘If the Democrats don’t want you, why don’t you run as an independent?”’ Dale said Tuesday.

Party primaries are Aug. 7 and the general election is Nov. 6.

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