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State GOP chairman says party may sue to participate in judicial races

By Staff
PARTY LINE – Jim Herring, left, state Republican Party chairman, speaks to members of the Lauderdale County Republican Women on Tuesday at Ryan's in Meridian. Herring gave local Republicans an update on the 3rd Congressional District campaign and touched on other political topics during his visit. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Aug. 14, 2002
The chairman of the state Republican Party said Tuesday his office is considering filing a suit challenging a law that prohibits political parties from participating in Mississippi judicial elections.
Jim Herring told the Lauderdale County Republican Women on Tuesday that he disagrees with the law state legislators approved in 1999 keeping political parties from contributing to or endorsing judicial candidates.
The prohibition became law despite a veto from Gov. Kirk Fordice. The law came after complaints from critics about a system they said benefited incumbents and free-spending special interests at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Herring said legislators may have meant well when they passed the law. But he said the role political parties once played in judicial races has since been replaced by special interest groups with narrow agendas.
The state GOP executive committee is scheduled to meet Thursday. Herring said that plans include discussing efforts to repeal the law. Herring is a former district attorney and a former state Court of Appeals judge.
Herring said one way to solve the tort reform issue in which critics say high jury awards are running doctors out of the state is to not let special interest groups pack courts with judges who promote their view.
Herring also emphasized the importance of getting-out-the-vote for U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, the Republican who is facing Democratic U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows for the right to represent the re-drawn 3rd Congressional District.
Herring said the state GOP will conduct a 72-hour get-out-the-vote presentation and workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the historic depot in downtown Newton.
The workshop will be led by Randy Kammerdiener, an elections expert from the Republican National Committee.
Herring said a low turnout in GOP strongholds led to the narrow defeat of 2000 gubernatorial candidate Mike Parker. And Herring made clear that he doesn't want the same thing to happen to Pickering.