Chancellor Walter Evans on Thursday ruled that M. LaTroy Alexandria-Williams can be placed on the primary ballot in the Ninth District Congressional race against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, according to Norma Lester, the senior Democrat on the Shelby County Election Commission.
Alexandria-Williams obtained an injunction in April after he was notified that his name would not be on the ballot by Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. The party said Alexandria-Williams did not qualify to run as a Democrat.
“We’ll be on the ballot all the way until the election is over,” Alexandria-Williams said on Friday. It’s all about race.”
In Alexandria-Williams’ viewpoint, the Democratic Party in Shelby County is “trying to find a way to get white folks elected in the Democratic Party when the majority is black.”
The New Tri-State Defender has reached out to Mancini and to a spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party for comment.
“He (Evans) really felt Mr. Williams didn’t have enough time to respond and just run as an independent,” Lester said Friday. “I’m glad the process played out as it should have in our democracy.”
Lester and Lexie Carter, chairperson of the Shelby County Primary Board, have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction, saying Alexandria-Williams did not receive due process in the matter. They have said Mancini took the action without telling them, something that was unusual and that caused unnecessary conflict and confusion.
Mancini is a defendant in the case, along with Linda Phillips, administrator of elections in Shelby County, and Mark Goins, coordinator of elections for Tennessee. Lester said the election commission is not concerned about which candidates make it onto the ballot.
“We’ll gladly comply with the judge’s decision,” Lester said. And while the ruling could be appealed, Lester said, “Whatever the case is, we’re going to follow the law. We don’t have a dog in the race.”
Alexandria-Williams has said he thinks the move to keep him off of the ballot is part of a smear campaign that involves Cohen and Mancini “because I won two lawsuits against Cohen and one was dismissed.”
Rick Maynard, communication director for Cohen for Congress, has said Cohen had nothing to do with any efforts to have Alexandria-Williams’ name removed from the ballot.
“This is something the Democratic Party did,” Maynard said. “We knew nothing about it until it was already happening. We found out about that after the fact.”
Asked about Alexandria-Williams’ specific allegation about a smear campaign, Maynard said, “I’m not going to get into his motives, but we had nothing to do with this.”
As of now, the incumbent Cohen will face Isaac Richmond, Kasandra Smith and Alexandria-Williams in the Democratic Party Primary on Aug. 2. Charlotte Bergmann is running unopposed for the GOP nomination, with Leo Awgowhat qualified as an independent.