The two political parties may be called upon to hold caucuses to come up with candidates to replace Chancellor Howell Peoples, Chris Clem, attorney for the election office, said Wednesday morning.
Attorney Clem said attorneys for Governor Phil Bredesen have indicated they do not plan to issue a writ of election until after Chancellor Peoples has officially retired - at the end of March. He said that is due to a state law saying the writ should not be issued until the office is vacant.
However, attorney Clem said that will be too late to get the chancellor race on the May 4 ballot. He said ballots to military personnel will have already been sent out by the first of April.
Attorney Clem said the political parties are not required to hold caucuses, but he said they may if they so choose. He noted a similar caucus situation arose due to the sudden need to replace Sheriff Billy Long after he was arrested by federal authorities.
He said Governor Bredesen has, however, started the process of choosing an interim successor to Chancellor Peoples. The Judicial Selection Commission is taking applications from interested attorneys. No one has yet signed up to apply.
He said the deadline to apply is next Tuesday and the panel will be in Chattanooga the following Tuesday to hear from applicants at the Sheraton Read House. By the close of that day, the commission is expected to have three names to be submitted to the governor.
Attorney Clem said the choice of the governor will serve from the first of April until the winner of the Aug. 5 election is swown in. The attorney chosen by Governor Bredesen can be a candidate in the election, but must go through the regular process of applying.
Attorney Clem said if for some reason a writ of election is not issued in time for the Aug. 5 ballot that the next time it could be up for a vote would be August of 2012. But he said he does not expect that to happen.