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No Democrat Qualifies to Replace Breeding in House District 89

The deadline to replace Shelly Breeding as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Knox County’s House District 89 passed at noon Saturday with no petition filed, according to Cliff Rodgers, Knox County administrator of elections.
Further from the News-Sentinel:
Would-be Democratic candidate Breeding lost a court bid to be on the ballot after a chancellor ruled her house actually sits in Anderson County and not Knox County. The new district is wholly in Knox County.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the decision, and the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to review it.
Four candidates are running the GOP primary in August.
According to Mark Goins, coordinator with the state Division of Elections, the Knox County Election Commission must now transfer the voter registration of Breeding, her husband and other voters similarly situated on Elizabeth Downs Lane to the Anderson County Election Commission.
“We didn’t purge anyone and say, ‘You’ve got to register in another county. We hand-delivered (the registrations) over there yesterday so there wouldn’t be any problem,” Rodgers said today. “We wanted to be sure they had an easy transition.”
Rodgers said the move affects two households in addition to Breeding’s home, for a total of seven voters.
Rodgers said the last day to register to vote for the Aug. 2 election is July 3 and early voting begins July 13. Tennessee law has changed and now voters 60 years of age or older may vote absentee by mail for any reason, Rodgers said.

Note: Under state law, when a candidate is taken off the ballot after the regular qualifying deadline — whether for death, disability or some legal reason, as in this case — qualifying is reopened. The deadline for new petitions to be filed is 40 days before the election and this year the 40th day before the Aug. 2 primary election fell on Saturday.
After the regular qualifying deadline, there were 34 House seats guaranteed to Republicans in November because there is no Democrat on the ballot. With Breeding disqualified and no replacement named, there are now 35.

Court of Appeals Rules Against Breeding Candidacy

From the News Sentinel:
Shelley Breeding cannot be a Knox County candidate for the General Assembly, a three-judge panel of the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled this morning.
The panel upheld a Chancery Court decision that Breeding is legally a resident of Anderson County. She wants to run in the Democratic primary from the newly created 89th District, which lies entirely in Knox County.
A Knoxville-Knox County-KUB Geographic Information System (KGIS) map shows part of her residential lot, including the mailbox and driveway, are in Knox County, but that her house is in Anderson County. She has challenged the accuracy of that map.
Breeding “has not produced any credible evidence” that the map lines are inaccurate, Judge Charles Susano wrote for the panel in its unanimous decision.
Facts presented in the case “show by a preponderance of the evidence” that her house is entirely within Anderson County “and that she is a resident of Anderson County and not Knox County,” Susano wrote.
Breeding still has the option of filing a request for the Tennessee Supreme Court to accept an appeal on an emergency basis. One of her attorneys, Jon Cope, said he and Breeding are discussing that possibility.

Court Agrees to Expedite Appeal of Breeding Candidacy Case

The Tennessee Court of Appeals today approved a fast-track schedule for Shelley Breeding’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that prevents her from running as a Knox County candidate for the General Assembly, reports the News Sentinel.
But the case could still go directly to the Tennessee Supreme Court, if Breeding’s lawyers ask the higher court to intercede and it does so. Her lawyers are contemplating making such a request.
Breeding wants to run as a Democrat in the newly formed 89th House District, which lies entirely in Knox County.
KGIS maps show that part of her residential property, including all of her house, is in Anderson County, while her mailbox and driveway are in Knox County.
A chancellor recently held she is legally an Anderson County resident and cannot run from Knox County.
Today the Court of Appeals said it would expedite its appeals process in the case, and ordered all briefs filed no later than June 8.

Judge Bars Democrat From Seeking Knox County House Seat

A judge ruled today that Shelley Breeding is not qualified to be a candidate for the General Assembly for the Knox County district she hoped to represent.
From Jim Balloch’s report:
“Shelley Breeding is not a qualified candidate, and therefore is not eligible to run for the state House of Representatives, District 89, which is solely in Knox County,” Chancellor W. Frank Brown III of Chattanooga concluded in a decision filed today.
One of her lawyers, John Cope, said his client is “highly disappointed,” and that the decision will be appealed immediately.
Breeding’s petition to run in the Democrat primary was questioned when a Knox County Election Commission worker discovered that a KGIS map shows part of her residential property, including her house, lies in Anderson County. Her driveway and mailbox are in Knox County.
“Thus, Ms. Breeding would have to show that she was a resident of Knox County,” Brown wrote. “It is her duty to show she is qualified. She has failed to prove such.”
Breeding said she was unaware that her mortgage was paying all of her property taxes to Anderson County. Her law office, voter and car registrations are all in Knox County, and she recently served on jury duty in Knox County.

Note: Breeding was the only Democrat to file a petition in House District 89. Four Republicans are competing for the GOP nomination.

Judge Promises Quick Ruling in Knox Candidacy Case — Maybe

A Chattanooga judge has promised a quick decision in the Shelley Breeding residency case — if he first decides he has the jurisdiction to do so.
From Jim Balloch’s report:
At the start of Wednesday’s hearing on the Democrat hopeful’s qualification to run for the new 89th House District seat in Knox County, Hamilton County Chancellor W. Frank Brown gave lawyers copies of a Tennessee Supreme Court decision that raises the jurisdiction issue.
Lawyers have stipulated a number of facts and exhibits in the case. Brown heard oral arguments so he will be prepared to rule if he decides he can. He told lawyers to file any more briefs filed by Friday, so he can make a decision “very, very quickly” thereafter
. “If she gets on the ballot, our work is over,” said Breeding’s led lawyer, Bill Stokes. “If she doesn’t, then we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
Stokes said the jurisdictional issue is if a judge can rule on a local election commission matter that the commission has not voted on.
“The only fair thing to do is to put her on the ballot,” Stokes’ fellow attorney Jon Cope told the judge. In the meantime, Breeding’s campaign plans are in limbo. She said she is “tentatively trying to plan” fundraising activities.

Knox Election Commission Asks Court to Decided Breeding Issue

The Knox County Election Commission voted today to ask a court to decide the residency issue of Democrat legislative hopeful Shelley Breeding.
Breeding, who has filed to run in the newly formed 89th state House district, said she was not surprised at the commission’s ruling.
“It’s not the worst thing, though,” she said, adding that she felt comfortable with having a court decide.
“I think the law is strongly on our side,” she said.
Knox County Law Director Joe Jarrett said the petition for a declaratory judgment could be filed in Chancery Court as early as today, or Friday at the latest. Work had already started because he anticipated the ruling, he said.
The 89th district lies entirely in Knox County. Part of Breeding’s property, including her driveway and mailbox with a Knoxville address, is in Knox County, but her house lies in Anderson County, which collects her property tax.
Her lawyer Bill Stokes, is a Republican and former county GOP chair. He said Breeding meets a number of other criteria that qualify her to run as a candidate from Knox County.
“She is a bona fide Knox County resident,” he said.
The commission vote was 3-to-2, along party lines, to send the matter directly to court instead of voting on her candidacy. State election officials earlier advised the Knox County Election Commission to send the matter straight to court, since it was likely to land there anyway.
(Note: from Jim Balloch of the News Sentinel)

Breeding Candidacy Headed to Court? (Democrats Cry Foul)

A court needs to decide the legal residency of state legislative hopeful Shelley Breeding, a state election official has advised the Knox County Election Commission, reports Jim Balloch.
A letter to the commission, state Election Coordinator Mark Goins expressed several doubts about Breeding’s eligibility to run in Knox County. (Note: full text of letter HERE.)
But Goins concluded that since the issue is likely to land in court anyway, it is better for a judge to decide it now instead of later.
Breeding, a Democrat, has petitioned to run from the newly created 89th state House District, which lies entirely in Knox County. But part of her residential property — including her dwelling — is in Anderson County.
The Knox County Election Commission should petition a court for a declaratory judgment on the issue now, Goins said. The commission has scheduled a meeting for 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, to discuss the issue.
Breeding could not be reached for comment, but she has previously vowed to challenge any denial of a place on the ballot.
“Under these circumstances, it is better to receive the court’s guidance on the front end of the issue,” Goins said in a four-page letter that cited case law and a number of issues relating to residency.
Breeding’s mailbox and driveway are in Knox County, but her house is entirely in Anderson County, said Knox County Election Coordinator Cliff Rodgers

And, this from the state Democratic party on the matter:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese issued a statement in response to the state election coordinator’s letter urging the Knox County Election Commission to contest the qualifying petition of Democratic candidate Shelley Breeding in court:
“As if it is not shameful enough that Republicans are working overtime to block a woman from running for office, they are also preparing to waste thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in defense of their blatant overreach,” Puttbrese said. “Shelley Breeding’s address is in Knoxville. Her voter registration is in Knox County. She was even summoned to jury duty in Knox County. The gig is up. Voters are responsible for determining the outcome of elections — not Republican bureaucrats. This is nothing more an attempt to rob voters of their right to choose their leaders.”

Knox House Candidate’s Legal Residence Questioned

Knox County election officials have asked the state to decide a legal question about the Knox County residency of a Democrat hopeful for state House of Representatives, .the News Sentinel reports
Shelley Breeding has filed paperwork to run in the newly created 89th District, which lies entirely in Knox County. But her residential property lies partly in Anderson County and partly in Knox County, said Knox County Election Coordinator Cliff Rodgers.
“At this point, we are waiting on guidance” from the state election coordinator’s office, Rodgers said. “We hope to hear from them soon.”
He said an employee in his office noticed that KGIS showed part of her property was in Anderson County.
“Her mailbox and her driveway are in Knox County, but her house is entirely in Anderson County,” Rodgers said. The real estate taxes on the property “are paid to the Anderson County trustee’s office, through her mortgage company.”

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