TUPELO • With one candidate for the Tupelo City Council wanting to end her campaign and another candidate having unexpectedly died, voters in Ward 3 and Ward 4 are facing some unusual election scenarios.
In Ward 3, Democratic candidate Maddie Ludt no longer wishes to continue her candidacy. That doesn't mean she couldn't still win a party primary.
Ludt last week told the Daily Journal she intends to end her candidacy. But election officials say that since ballots have been printed, she can’t formally withdraw from the race. Not only will Ludt’s name appear on the ballot alongside her opponent Kenneth Wayne’s, she could, theoretically, win the primary.
Ludt’s announcement that she no longer wishes to run for local office could give her Democratic opponent a leg up in the race and tilt the scales in his favor on Election Day. But even if she were to win the primary, Ludt doesn’t have to appear on the general election ballot.
City Clerk Kim Hanna said if Ludt were to win the Democratic nomination, she could end her candidacy before the general election ballot is printed, which would allow the Democratic Party’s municipal executive nominee to name a new nominee in the race. That could, theoretically, be anyone, including someone who was not previously a candidate at all.
The Democratic nominee in Ward 3 will compete in the general election against the Republican nominee — either incumbent Travis Beard, or newcomer Bradley Gillespie.
The circumstances in Ward 3 differ from those in Ward 4, where one candidate died. Whenever a candidate for office dies, state law allows qualifying candidates to mount a write-in campaign.
Greg Humphrey's death leaves incumbent Nettie Davis as the only candidate in that race, meaning she is almost certain to win the Democratic nomination and the general election.
Hanna, who also serves as the city’s chief financial officer, said that because the ballots have already been printed, both Humphrey's and Davis' names will appear on the primary ballot, but there will be notices posted at each precinct reminding voters of the former's death.
Even though Davis is the only active candidate on the ballot, this leaves an opportunity for someone to try and win the nomination by amassing write-in votes.
Hanna said the clerk’s office has fielded several phone calls from people inquiring about the write-in process, but she has not heard of any specific person who is mounting a write-in campaign.
Any person wishing to try and win the nominee as a write-in candidate must meet the same residency requirements as any other candidate. It would also be extremely difficult for a person to raise funds and conduct campaign outreach as a write-in candidate a mere two weeks before the primary election.
Davis, the incumbent councilwoman, told the Daily Journal last week that she is still campaigning in the ward and plans to work hard on behalf of her ward over the next four years.
There is no Republican candidate in the Ward 4 race, so the winner of the Democratic primary will win the overall race. Party primaries take place on April 6.