A Surry County man’s bid for a second try at a state legislative seat in the same year — this time as a candidate for another party — has hit a roadblock.
Allen Poindexter challenged longtime incumbent Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy for her District 90 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives in a two-person race for the GOP nomination for that office, but lost in the May 8 primary.
Stevens, a local attorney and a member of the House leadership team serving as speaker pro tem, captured two-thirds of the vote to move on in her quest for a sixth two-year term in the November general election against Democrat John Worth Wiles.
Although he lost in May, Poindexter, 41, also was figuring to be in that mix as a candidate for the newly recognized Constitution Party in North Carolina, but which a N.C. Board of Elections spokesman said Thursday is prohibited by a new law.
It states that persons who lost in the primary may not for run for the same office this year under the Constitution Party banner.
Since that party was not officially designated by the state Board of Elections until June 6, an unusual situation was presented in which it was permitted to skip the primary process and nominate candidates directly for this year’s election.
That occurred during a nominating convention in Charlotte on June 16 when a handful of Constitution Party candidates including Poindexter were selected, in his case to once again run against Stevens.
However, the new state law that went into effect four days later disallows this, although Poindexter vehemently expressed the belief Thursday that his candidacy remains legitimate.
A resident of Emerald Lane, Mount Airy, whose occupations have been reported as freelance writer and a graphics arts business owner-operator, Poindexter partly based that contention on the fact he has paid a $207 filing fee for the House seat.
“I had to go to Raleigh to do it,” he added Thursday.
Confusion clouds issue
Information provided Thursday by Patrick Gannon of the state’s Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Office makes it clear that Poindexter’s candidacy is not allowed, along with those of two other office-seekers in North Carolina.
That information refers to an enactment that became law on the afternoon of June 20, which includes this prohibition:
“An individual whose name appeared on the ballot in a primary election preliminary to the general election shall not be eligible to have that individual’s name placed on the general election ballot as a candidate for the new political party for the same office in that year.”
There was already a “sore loser” provision on the books keeping people defeated in a primary from running for the same office as a write-in or unaffiliated candidate.
The implications of the new law impacting Constitution Party candidates are referenced in a letter prepared in recent days for sending via Federal Express and email to Poindexter and the two other candidates affected.
They are Jerry Jones, who competed in a Democratic primary for a seat on the Greene County Board of Commissioners in May, and Gregory Holt, an unsuccessful candidate for the Craven County Board of Commissioners.
“Ballots have not yet been prepared by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Office, and the above-cited statute now acts to prohibit the inclusion of your names on the general election ballot,” general counsel Josh Lawson of that office wrote to the three.
“Accordingly, your names will not appear on the ballot and the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Office will begin the process of returning your respective filing fees.”
In maintaining Thursday that he is still an official candidate, Poindexter cited the timing of his filing amid a series of developments regarding the new law.
After being approved by the General Assembly to prevent defeated candidates from running under the Constitution Party banner, the measure was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
That led to both legislative chambers overriding his veto, the Senate on June 19 and the House the next day, which barred Poindexter, Jones and Holt from being on the ballot in the 2018 general election.
Poindexter said Thursday that he has been told his candidacy would stand due to his filing after Cooper’s veto and before it was overridden.
There has been some talk in election circles of a lawsuit possibly being filed to challenge the new law due to its passage after the Constitution Party already had started its nomination process. Yet for now Poindexter and the other two candidates aren’t officially recognized.
Poindexter recently changed his affiliation to the Constitution Party, which leans far right with an emphasis on fiscal conservatism, a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution, religious freedom and opposition to abortion.
The newly recognized party in North Carolina is said to appeal to traditional Republicans who have become disenchanted with the GOP on a national level due to its inaction on issues such as immigration, the repeal of Obamacare and the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.
That is apparently the case with Poindexter, who was quoted by one media outlet after his recent nomination as saying he had become “disgusted” with the Republican Party “because the leadership lost their way.”
“The reason I changed my party affiliation is to give people another choice in November,” he said in a statement explaining his candidacy.
“I would rather vote for someone who shares the same morals and values I have than to vote for a person just because they have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ beside their name.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.