A Georgia Administrative Court Judge has recommended that District 52 State Senate candidate Jeff Lewis be disqualified from the race.
Incumbent Senator Chuck Hufstetler filed the challenge to Lewis’s candidacy earlier this year, and on Thursday afternoon Georgia Administrative Court Judge Charles R Beaudrot ruled that Lewis had not made the correct filings with respect to his campaign finances. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has the final say on candidacy questions; as of 6:30 Thursday evening, he had not made a ruling on the case.
Beaudrot said Lewis had not filed disclosure reports on his campaign contributions since 2012, at which time a report indicated that the Lewis House committee had a $75,000 net balance.
Hufstetler told WBHF he filed the challenge to Lewis’s candidacy for this reason, and he felt the judge’s decision was correct.
“[Lewis] had gone ten years without filing the required reports by law,” Hufstetler said in a phone. “The judge correctly followed the law, which said that if you have outstanding fines or reports then you are ineligible to run. And we’re certainly not talking about a typo on one report – we’re talking about ten years worth of reports.”
However, Lewis said this challenge was Hufstetler’s attempt to hang onto his senate seat.
“It just basically is a cowardly act from Senator Chuck Hufstetler in a desperate attempt to hang onto his position,” Lewis said. “He filed [the] suit based on a technicality and we’ve got that technicality taken care of. There’s no reason that I should be removed from the ballot, and in fact we’re going to continue the legal fight so that the people of this district will still have the opportunity to vote in this race.”
Beaudrot ruled that the filing issues weren’t cured in time for Thursday’s hearing, but Lewis said that he details of the case weren’t clearly communicated to him or his team.
Early voting has begun for the May 24 primary, and Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said votes for disqualified candidates can’t be counted even if they were cast before the disqualification. While Beaudrot’s ruling serves as a recommendation, the Georgia Secretary of State will have the opportunity to hear Lewis’s objections.