Developments to report in Republican Rep. Jim Sorvillo’s contest before the state Claims Commission of his 24-vote loss for re-election in District 32 to Democrat Ashley Hudson:
He contends the inclusion of up to 32 disqualified absentee ballots taints the election. He wants the Claims Commission to recommend to the state House that Hudson not be seated and that the governor be asked to call a new election. Hudson contends the Constitution requires consideration of election contests in Circuit Court and that she was the rightful winner. Sorvillo went first to court, but he dropped an appeal of an adverse decision yesterday to focus on the Claims Commission.
Under the challenged statute under which Sorvillo is now proceeding, members of the House may be appointed as ex-officio but non-voting members of the Claims panel that hears the claim. House Speaker Matthew Shepherd appointed Republican Rep. Austin McCollum and Democratic Rep. Tippy McCullough to fill those slots.
Kathryn Irby, director of the commission, also has informed parties that two Claims commissioners, Courtney Baird and Sylvester Smith, have recused from the case. That leaves Dexter Booth, Henry Kinslow, Paul Morris — all appointees of Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson — to hear the case. Typically, claims are heard by a three-member panel. A date has not been set.