Democrats ask secretary of state to keep ex-Globerotter off ballot

LITTLE ROCK — The state Democratic Party on Tuesday asked Secretary of State Mark Martin to decline to place on the ballot the name of a would-be House candidate who has a felony conviction, but an official with the secretary of state’s office said that may not be legal.

The Democratic Party sent a letter asking that the name of Fred Smith of Crawfordsville not be placed on the ballot for the District 50 House seat. Smith, a former Harlem Globetrotter, filed Thursday to run for the seat despite having resigned from the seat in 2011 after being convicted of felony theft in Chicot County Circuit Court.

Martha Adcock, director of elections for the secretary of state’s office, replied in a letter Tuesday to state Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond, “Unfortunately it appears that Mr. Smith properly filed with this office, which included your certification that Mr. Smith met the filing requirements.”

Adcock said it appeared that the only person who could withdraw Smith’s name was Smith. She said that “in an excess of caution,” she would wait until 2 p.m. Wednesday to transmit candidates’ names to the election board and county clerk of Crittenden County.

“If you have additional information, legal citations or authority, or other bases to accomplish your purpose, please make them known to me” before 2 p.m., Adcock wrote in the letter.

Also Tuesday, state Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said the party has decided to refund Smith’s $3,000 filing fee. She had said Monday that the party would only return the fee if Smith agreed to withdraw, which by late Tuesday afternoon he had not done.

A call to Smith on Tuesday was answered by a recording saying his voicemail was full.

State Rep. Hudson Hallum, D-Marion, is seeking re-election to the District 50 seat he won in a special election after Smith resigned. No Republican filed for the office.