JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — More questions are being raised about the party loyalties of Howard Sherman, who is running as a Democrat for the Mississippi U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Roger Wicker.
Jackson lawyer Sam Begley on Tuesday provided The Associated Press with a California voter registration document showing Sherman registered as a Republican there and voted in the 2012 and 2016 Republican presidential primaries.
Sherman campaign manager Giles Perkins said Sherman was registered as a Republican because the California Democratic Party wasn’t a good ideological fit for a businessman like Sherman.
“He’s a good Mississippi Democrat,” Perkins said Wednesday. “Shouldn’t we be focused on what makes Mississippi better instead of on this other group running him out of the race because they don’t have any ideas of their own?”
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Sherman, the husband of actress Sela Ward, now lists a Meridian address.
Begley last week petitioned the Mississippi Democratic Party to disqualify Sherman because Sherman donated $5,000 to Wicker last year. That petition was denied as being filed too late after qualifying. Begley, who supports Democratic state Rep. David Baria’s candidacy, said the California document is more proof Sherman isn’t a true Democrat.
“They’re another political party,” Begley said. “He’s seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party in Mississippi and he has no history of affiliation with the Democratic Party in Mississippi. In fact, he was a Republican in California.”
Baria, Sherman, state Rep. Omeria Scott of Laurel, Jensen Bohren of Benton, Jerone Garland of Kosciusko and Victor Maurice of Pass Christian will face off in the Democratic Senate primary on June 5. Wicker, in the Senate since late 2007, faces political newcomer Richard Boyanton of Diamondhead on the same day. If no Democrat wins a majority, the top two vote-getters advance to a June 26 runoff, with the general election set for Nov. 6.
The document, which Los Angeles County officials confirmed as authentic to the AP on Wednesday, shows Sherman voting in California 10 times between 2000 and the 2016 presidential primary. Perkins said he didn’t know who Sherman had voted for in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, which was won by eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney, or in the 2016 primary, won by eventual presidential winner Donald Trump. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for Sherman to say for whom he voted.
The Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk’s office said Wednesday that records show Sherman had never voted in the Mississippi jurisdiction. He registered in 2009 and deleted his Mississippi registration in 2010, and then re-registered in Lauderdale County in September 2016.
Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Moak said he’s not worried about Sherman’s political past.
“Voters can make up their own minds on that,” Moak said.
Begley said he feared an expensive Democratic primary could damage Baria. Sherman wrote his own campaign a $500,000 check on March 30, Federal Election Commission records show.
Baria had raised $120,000 by March 31, while Bohren had raised less than $2,000. There were no records of filings by Scott, Garland or Maurice.
Associated Press writer Michael Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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