Beaudrot on Thursday found that Lewis was not “eligible to qualify to seek election” under Georgia law.
“He had not filed any campaign reports for the last 10 years and he had $75,0000 in his account at that time and has not done the reports that the law says you have to do,” Hufstetler said. “So I certainly believe you need to follow the law.”
Lewis left the state House after the 2008 legislative session and continued to file campaign finance documents until December 2012, when he had about $75,000 left in the bank, according to court documents. Former lawmakers must account for money in their campaign account in periodic filings until all the money has been spent, given to charity or refunded to donors.
Lewis’ attorney, Lester Tate, argued that the new law was unconstitutional because it puts more qualifications on candidate eligibility than is outlined in the state constitution. The administrative court does not rule on questions of constitutionality, so Tate said Lewis plans to request a review of the law by a state Superior Court.
“We’re trying to get it in front of a judge, and there’s a great chance the law will be ruled unconstitutional and (Lewis) will be placed back on the ballot,” Tate said.
Derek Keeney, who is chairman of the Bartow County Board of Education, is also running in the Republican primary. No Democrat filed to run for the seat.
Since early voting began last week, Lewis’ name will remain on the primary ballot. Precincts in Senate District 52, which includes parts of Bartow, Floyd and Gordon counties, will have signs informing voters that Lewis is no longer eligible as a candidate and votes cast for him won’t be counted.