A residency challenge filed against Ronnie Mabra by competing candidate Linda Pritchett has been decided in Pritchett’s favor. The order, which was released today, is here.

The race is presumably now down to Democrats Linda Pritchett and TJ Copeland, for State Representative in HD 63.

UPDATE: The ruling today is only a recommendation, and is not a disqualification. Ronnie Mabra, as of this moment, is still a candidate in the HD 63 race.  A press release will be issued from the Mabra campaign within the hour, and we will post the full release. We will seek comment from Mr. Mabra in the future.

UPDATE II: From the tipline:

The Secretary of State has the right to accept or reject an ALJ’s findings — so it’s not final until he issues an order accepting/rejecting the ALJ’s recommendations. At that point, it may be appealed to Superior Court. If he accepts the recommendation, the SOS office will notify all counties to post a notice that this person is no longer a candidate, and ballots cast for him will not be counted.


6 Responses to Residency challenge in HD 63 race

  1. A Friendly Legal Commentator says:

    I have read my fair share of opinions, and this is one of the most egregious I have read. To be clear, I have no sides in this race. The only reason that I am posting anonymously is that, God forbid I ever come in front of this judge, I do not want to be inexplicably prejudiced against as in this case.

    In reading the opinion, it is evident that the judge had her mind made up, and then cherry-picked facts adverse to Mr. Mabra. She mentioned ones that I believe are highly inappropriate, and completely rebuttable. A few examples:

    -she questioned Mr. Mabra’s ability to define the word “consecutively,” when I know of quite a large number of candidates that even qualified this year that placed the total number of years they have lived in the district, simply because of oversight
    -she questioned Mrs. Mabra’s choice of church, as, in her opinion (not based on any fact), Dawn Mabra attends a church in Atlanta, not Fayetteville. I do not know the real reason, but is it not possible that there are a plethora of reasons why she would do this, and is it really the business of a judge to question an individual’s choice of place of worship?
    -she questioned a gap in time between when the Mabras were married and when they moved in together in Fayetteville. I don’t know about you, but is it not completely possible that they took their time to move things from one home to another, though they were perhaps living together before the move was complete?
    -she questioned why a young couple would move in with Mr. Mabra’s mother, rather than live alone in Atlanta. This, to me, is inexcusably inappropriate. There are plenty of people who live with their parents for good reason, and perhaps even own a separate home. It is not the business of a judge to question WHY someone lives somewhere, but simply IF they do. In this case, making a snarky footnote mention of this was not only unnecessary, but simply wrong.

    In all, my belief is that, the way this was written, the judge was predisposed against Mr. Mabra for some reason, and then cherrypicked rebuttable facts to write her decision. I could go on at length how each of the reasons to recommend disqualification that she cited could have incredibly reasonable explanations, but I won’t.

    • Chris says:

      In 2004, Roger Williams (R – Dalton) was representing his district in the house when the lines were redrawn by a federal judge. He then qualified for a new district. The only problem is that the address he used to qualify for the new district was NOT in his existing district that he represented. It is against the law to continue representing a district you no longer live in, and by qualifying with the new address for the new district, he should have either vacated his current seat or been disqualified from the new race.

      There were no factual judgment calls, like in this race. It was a simple venn diagram, if you will – one house was in one district, one house was in the other district, but neither house was in both districts. This should be the clearest of clear cut cases. Yet the ALJ in this case said basically let’s let the voters decide. Our secretary of state at the time had a fantasy of getting Republican crossover votes in her upcoming run for Governor, so she sided with the Republican candidate even though he was clearly breaking the law. Democrats could have really used this race in our quest to keep the house in 2004.

      I bring this up to say that the ALJ really overstepped her bounds in this race – there is a huge historical precedent for letting the voters decide unless there’s clear cut evidence to the contrary, and even when there is overwhelming evidence, they still usually let the voters decide.

      Interestingly, this is a Democratic seat no matter who wins the primary – so Kemp shouldn’t really have a dog in the fight in the same way as the ’04 house challenge (and we had a similar issue in the Ralph Hudgens ’04 senate challenge that we also lost). It will be interesting to see what happens.

  2. Emily says:

    I bet Rashad Taylor is glad he doesn’t have a Linda Pritchett in his district!

  3. The Question Man says:

    I heard that the Judge’s ruling is only a recommendation and that Secretary of State Brian Kemp has to make the final ruling. Anybody else hear that?

    • Concernedcitzen556 says:

      How often does the SOS overrule the recommendations of an Administrative Law Judge?

      • The Question Man says:

        I don’t know, but didn’t an administrative law judge say that Jim Powell was good to go back in 2008 and Karen Handle overruled that and threw him off?