By Gina Vaile/Managing editor
A Fayette County judge refused to issue an injunction to prevent gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher (R) from selecting a new running mate to replace Hunter Bates, who was disqualified last week.An Oldham County judge declared Bates ineligible on the grounds that Bates had not been a Kentucky resident long enough.
Bates, an Eastern graduate, currently resides in Oldham County, but has lived for most of the last six years in Virginia while working for Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in Washington, D.C.
The Kentucky constitution requires candidates for governor and lieutenant governor must be citizens and residents of the state for six years preceding the election. Bates eligibility was challenged by Curtis Shain, a Republican college student. Bob Heleringer, the running mate of Steve Nunn, one of Fletcher’s opponents, joined the suit. Heleringer added Fletcher should formally withdraw from the race as well.
In a statement released March 27, Bates said, “I haven’t lived my life to run for this office, or any office for that matter. But I have tried to live my life to make a contribution.”
Bates decided not to challenge the judge’s ruling and withdrew from the race March 28.
The decision by a Fayette County judge not to issue the injunction that would prevent Fletcher from continuing to run in the gubernatorial election is what the Fletcher campaign is calling a success.
“I am very pleased with the ruling and more importantly I believe that every Kentuckian is pleased. It returns this election to the polling booth instead of the courtroom,” Fletcher said.
A running mate has not been selected, but campaign officials expect a running mate to be named by the end of the month.