The Letcher County Democratic Party is scrambling to figure out what it can and can’t do about the November election ballot after the party’s nominee for magistrate in District 3 was indicted on child sex abuse and child pornography charges.
Since the candidate, Emory “Fudge” Mullins, has not been convicted of a crime, County Democratic Chairperson Carolyn Lewis said she is not sure the party can replace him on the ballot. She said she has called the Kentucky Democratic
Party and is trying to research the situation.
“I haven’t been chair for that long, and I’ve never faced something like this,” she said. “It’s horrible. It makes us all look bad.”
Mullins, who is running for District 3 Magistrate, is being held in the Letcher County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond after indictments were returned last week accusing him of sexually abusing a four-year-old girl, possessing pornographic images of eight separate young boys, and retaliating against two witnesses, the parents of the girl who was his alleged victim.
Indictments are a formal charge by a grand jury, and are not an indication of guilt. A grand jury returns an indictment if its members believe there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. Mullins was just charged this month, and no trial has been set.
Mullins owns a florist shop in Neon, and has been well regarded in the community. He defeated the current magistrate and a former magistrate in the primary election.
Unless and until he is convicted, the local Democratic Party can’t withdraw Mullins’s nomination, which presents a problem for the party. Unless Mullins withdraws from the race, the party will have no choice but to have an accused child molester on the ballot.
If he does resign, the party still can’t appoint anyone to replace him.
“If the candidate in question withdraws, and there is an opposing candidate in the race, the party would not be able to nominate a replacement candidate,” said Bradford Queen, spokesman for Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes.
Mullins is opposed by Republican Maverick Cook, and Deborah Collier, a Democrat, is running as a write-in candidate. Both filed before the May election, and before the accusations about Mullins became public.
The only ways the party can replace the candidate is if he’s unopposed and resigns, if he dies, if he becomes disabled to hold the office, or if a court disqualifies him and removes him from the ballot.
Short of having grounds to file a suit and remove him from the ballot, the Democratic Party will have no choice but to allow Mullins to run, or to have no one on the ballot.
“There is no mechanism to just remove him from the ballot,” Queen said.