Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Sen. Audrey Gibson On Closed State Attorney Primary: ‘Let The People Vote’

Lindsey Kilbride


Jacksonville civil rights leaders are demanding a write-in state attorney candidate withdraw from the race. Jacksonville Attorney Kenny Leigh filed to run, closing the primary to only Republican voters.

He’s running along with Republicans Wes White, Melissa Nelson and incumbent Angela Corey. Registered democrats would have to switch to the republican party to vote for state attorney in the August primary.

Senator Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, said this disenfranchises voters and if Leigh doesn’t step down, Corey should insist he does on an “ethics note.”

“Just think about the 94-year-old ... African-American senior, who lived through the Civil Rights era, who lived through the time when they couldn’t vote and then all of a sudden somebody slams the door shut in their face on an issue that is so important to their community,” she said.

Gibson said a large number of people prosecuted are from African-American and other minority communities, and those registered as democrats or independents should have a say in who is in charge of prosecuting for the state.

Judge James Daniel, who heard arguments in a lawsuit against the closed primary, stepped down from the case this week. Leigh accused him of being bias and filed a motion to disqualify Daniel, posted by News4Jax.  The suit claims Leigh is only running to limit the primary to republican voters, and he's a "sham candidate."  

Gibson named the new judge, Clay County Judge Richard Townsend. She said she’s concerned by how long the process will take and was anticipating a judgment being ruled before memorial day
“Qualifying begins at noon on June 20,” she said. “That’s a very short time period.”

Gibson was joined by other leaders, including Elder Lee Harris with the  African-American Ministers Leadership Council and Gibson’s predecessor, Tony Hill.

Hill said if democrats are good enough to vote for the pension sales tax-extension referendum, they should be able to vote for the State Attorney.

There will be a hearing on the lawsuit at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the courthouse downtown.