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County Chairman’s ‘Honest Mistake’ Keeps GOP Candidates Off Ballot

January 6, 1988

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A procedural slip-up by a Republican official means that Lonoke County’s officeholders, all Democrats, will face no challengers in this year’s election.

GOP Chairman Jim Fuller said he collected the five GOP hopefuls’ papers and filing fees to bring to the county clerk’s office, intending to save each of them a trip.

What he didn’t know, he said, was that state law dictates that candidates must file their own papers and pay their own fees.

Fuller got the word from County Clerk Myrtle Finch when he tried to file the papers about 1 1/2 hours before Tuesday’s deadline at Lonoke, the county seat, which is about 25 miles east of Little Rock.

″It was just a matter of ignorance. I was not familiar with the law,″ said Fuller, who is in his second year as chairman. ″It was an honest mistake.″

Aggravating the mistake, he said, was the realization that Republicans have been making gains and ″this was the year to win.″

When Mrs. Finch refused to accept the papers, Fuller tried unsuccessfully to round up the prospective candidates.

Fortunately, he said, the candidates said they understood. ″They are disappointed and hurt but I don’t think there’s any animosity,″ Fuller said.

Dorothy English, executive director of the state GOP, said Tuesday night that she would confer with the party’s lawyer. However, she said she didn’t see any choices short of waiting for the next election.

Mrs. Finch was sympathetic but unyielding, saying ″I hate it, but there’s no options that I can tell.″

Fuller said he got paperwork from two of the candidates several days ago, but had waited about presenting the material to the clerk ″to see if we could get any more candidates.″ Two had agreed to run Monday night, he said.

Fuller said each candidate asked him if they should file themselves, but he told them that he understood he could do that for them.

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