On Wednesday, former Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine expressed his interest in the congressional seat soon to be vacated by Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, even though he is still serving time in jail for a conviction on perjury and harassment charges.
Nodine, serving as a Republican, resigned his county commission seat in 2010 after being indicted in Baldwin County for the murder of his long-time mistress Angel Downs. Nonetheless, Nodine argues he deserves a second chance.
“I know some will be skeptical of my interest in this congressional race after wrongfully being accused of crimes, drug abuse and personal mistakes,” Nodine said in an emailed statement. “I was never given a second chance, I had no record prior to my wrongful prosecution because of my personal failings and all I ask is for a second chance to serve the citizens of South Alabama. I have the determination, the experience and fortitude to serve as Congressman for the 1st Congressional District of Alabama.”
But early Wednesday evening Yellowhammer learned Nodine’s eligibility as a potential Republican candidate would face opposition from within the party. Baldwin County GOP Chairman Matt Simpson told Yellowhammer if Nodine were to attempt to qualify as a Republican, he would challenge his candidacy with the Alabama Republican Party.
“Having pleaded guilty to a felony charge of perjury, a crime for which he is currently serving his sentence, Mr. Nodine does not represent the principles and qualities necessary to represent the Republican Party in South Alabama and I would oppose his qualifying on our party ticket,” Simpson said.
Nodine responded Thursday morning to Simpson, who is also Assistant District Attorney in Mobile County in addition to his duties as Baldwin County GOP Chairman.
“I respect Mr. Simpson but disagree totally with his assumption he can violate my constitutional rights as a citizen,” Nodine said. “I have served my country in both the military and elective office and know how important it is to protect the Constitution.”
While Nodine does have a Constitutional right to run for public office, there are no laws stating that a political party must accept any candidate.
“He has every right to run for Congress. He does not have the right to run as a Republican,” Simpson told Yellowhammer.
Although as a felon, Nodine would ineligible to vote for himself, he could still be a candidate. But should he be elected, he would be unable to travel to Capitol Hill until he had served out his prison term set to end in September 2014, meaning he could not cast votes until nearly the end of his term.
[11:30 a.m., Thursday, June 20: This article was updated to include Nodine’s response to Simpson, and Simpson’s subsequent response to Nodine.]
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