“It’s my legal opinion that the position isn’t vacant,” said Beskin, who tried to qualify on Tuesday but said she was told by elections officials the seat wasn’t eligible.
Barrow, who sought to qualify on Monday, declined comment. Once the only white Democratic congressman in the Deep South, Barrow lost his bid for secretary of state in 2018.
State officials pointed to a letter penned by Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s attorney, who wrote that “the most prudent course of action” was to cancel qualifying because Gov. Brian Kemp intended to fill the vacancy.
If the secretary of state’s decision stands, Kemp’s appointee won’t have to face voters until the next general election in 2022.
This is the second time Barrow and Beskin had sought to run for the Supreme Court but were denied the opportunity.
Both had intended to run for Justice Robert Benham's seat when his term expired this year, but he stepped down March 1 rather than fill out his term. That allowed Kemp a chance to appoint Benham's replacement, delaying that election until 2022.
Blackwell, an appointee of Gov. Nathan Deal, said last week he would step down to spend more time with his family after about eight years on the state's top bench.