Thursday, February 24, 2005

MAGNANIMOUS HOOKS: NOBODY HAD "HARD ON" FOR HIM

County Commission chairman is reinstated by Chancellor Goldin as a candidate for state Senate vacancy.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 24, 2005 at 4:00 AM

After listening to testimony from lawyers for both Michael Hooks and the state of Tennessee, Chancellor Arnold Goldin Wednesday ruled in Hooks’ favor and ordered Hooks reinstated as a candidate in a forthcoming state Senate election. Goldin thereby struck down a prior adverse ruling against Hooks by the state Election Registry and state Election Commissioner Brook Thompson, who had declared the Shelby County Commission chairman ineligible to run for the seat because Hooks had not met financial-disclosure deadlines.

Reviewing a record that showed historic inconsistency between enforcement actions and deadline requirements of state and local election officials, Goldin said it would be “fundamentally unfair” and “difficult to justify” disallowing Hooks’ candidacy for the District 33 seat, vacated recently by longtime incumbent Roscoe Dixon, now an aide to Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton..

Goldin’s action means that the Democratic primary will now be a three-way race between Hooks, state Representative Kathryn Bowers, and James Harvey. A fourth candidate, state Representative Joe Towns, had also been disallowed by the state agencies -- in his case, for failure to pay accumulated fines relating to violation of disclosure requirements -- but Towns did not appeal the finding.

Hooks’ reentry means that Bowers, who doubles as Shelby County Democratic chairman, will have another name candidate to contend with and not just the relatively unknown Harvey.

Bowers had called a press conference Monday to deny that she had used her political influence to get Hooks disqualified -- an allegation that Hooks insisted Wednesday he had never made.

“I think she’s just looking for publicity. I never once thought that or said that. That would make them [the various state officials who signed off on his disqualification] dishonorable. In fact, they’re not. I’ve worked with them for many years. They don’t have a hard on for Michael Hooks. They’re just interpreting the law and trying to do their job.” One of his first legislative missions, if elected, will be to reconcile “discrepancies” between the state and local election codes, Hooks said.

“I think the judge did the right thing to let the people decide who they want to be their state senator. It won’t be determined by nit-picking or hag-nagging. It’ll be on the issues,” said Hooks. Acknowledging that the delay caused by his litigation had inconvenienced his campaign somewhat, he said, “We kept working. Of course, we stopped spending and planning our advertising campaigns and so forth. We’ll have to catch up.”

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