Flowers on ballot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Former State Rep. Steve Flowers is back. During a hearing Tuesday, Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Charles Price ruled the Republican Party violated the law when it removed Flowers from the ballot.

&uot;I’m back,&uot; Flowers said after the ruling. &uot;I’m pleased that a court of law has ruled that the people of District 14 will get to choose their senator rather than a handful of people meeting in a back room at the Mountain Brook Inn.&uot;

Flowers was referring to Monday, April 15’s vote of a Republican committee which disqualified Flowers for allegedly not fulfilling residency requirements.

The vote, 10-8, at the time eliminated Flowers from the District 14 state senate race and ignited a legal battle which came to an end on Tuesday.

&uot;I’m very thankful that a judge stepped in and stopped this committee from making the decision for the people,&uot; Flowers said.

Former Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr., who defended Flowers at the hearing, was also pleased voters will have the final say in the decision.

&uot;I am just glad the people of the district will be able to decide for themselves who their next senator will be,&uot; Hooper said.

The ruling on Tuesday does not, however, clear up the confusion of residency in the eyes of the Republican leadership.

&uot;The judge’s ruling never addressed the issue of residency,&uot; said State Republican Party Executive Director Marty Conners.

&uot;In our opinion, the judge has ignored 40 years of case law that allows parties to change their ballots after 50 days.&uot;

Conners was referring to the 55-day-prior-to-election deadline in which parties can make changes to the ballots.

In this case, the party attempted to disqualify Flowers and remove his name from the ballot less than 50 days from the June 4 primary.

Conners was unable to complete an interview due to his involvement in a afternoon conference call about this issue.

If Flowers is able to win the upcoming primary, it has not been determined whether the party will certify him as the winner.

&uot;I really don’t think they will have a choice but to certify me if I win,&uot; Flowers said.

&uot;They don’t want to go through that. The people will ultimately have the chance to determine who will win in this race &045; not the courts and not some back room committee.&uot;

The Republican Party voted on Monday, prior to the judge’s ruling, that it would not reconsider its decision.

Conners said at the time that committee members chose to let their decision stand.

&uot;So far, we have been able to reach 16 committee members, and it is 15-1 against reconsidering,&uot; Conners said Monday afternoon.

During the 10-8 vote to remove him from the ballot, three members were not present, whose votes may have turned the decision in Flowers’ favor, he had claimed.

Flowers has continued with his suit against Montevallo resident Carlton LeMond, who filed the initial complaint with the state Republican Party, as well as SDI Inc., the private investigation firm that collected information and filed a report on Flowers and his residency.

He contends the firm collected the information illegally by breaking into his home