Federal Hatch Act restrictions have forced Harry G. Jones, a Democrat, to withdraw from the Washington County commissioner race.
Jones, a well-known United States Postal Service employee who services downtown Hagerstown, recently discovered that his status as a federal employee would not allow him to seek elected partisan office.
Jones filed paperwork on May 2 with the Washington Couty Board of Elections to withdraw his candidacy.
The Hatch Act restricts federal employee participation in certain partisan political activities. The political activity restrictions apply during the entire time of an employee’s federal service. Certain rules prohibit both on-duty and off-duty conduct.
Partisan political activities are those activities directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group, according to a federal government website.
While most federal employees are permitted to take an active part in the partisan political management and partisan political campaigns, the Hatch Act does prohibit certain participation by all Federal employees. Federal employees may not seek public office in partisan elections, use their official title or authority when engaging in political activity, solicit or receive contributions for partisan political candidates or groups, and engage in political activity while on duty, thus forcing Jones to withdraw his commissioner candidacy.
A Washington County Board of Elections employee told A Miner Detail that since Washington County’s primary ballots have already been printed, Jones’ name will remain on the ballot for the June 26th primary election.
Washington County Board of Elections Deputy Director Barry Jackson told A Miner Detail that “once the primary is over, he’ll [Jones] have to decline the nomination.” Jackson said that Jones will make it through the primary since his name is already on the ballot (and there is no Democratic primary) and cannot be removed before the June 26 primary.
March 1 was the deadline for candidates to withdraw from the primary ballot.
Once Jones declines his nomination after the primary, Jackson believes that the Washington County Democratic Central Committee will be able to appoint a Democrat to fill Jones’ general election ballot position.
Jones confirmed with A Miner Detail last evening that he had withdrawn from the commissioner race.
“It’s true. I’m left with no choice because of the Federal Hatch Act and having the years but not age at this time.”
Jones’ campaign Facebook page and website have since been removed.
Four other Washington County Democrats seek election this year to the commissioner board, including two former Washington County Board of Education members, Donna Brightman and W. Edward Forrest, as well as Elizabeth Paul and Brian Beall.
13 Republicans, including three incumbents, two Unaffiliated candidates, and one Green Party candidate also seek election to the Washington County Commissioner Board. Embattled Republican Commissioner LeRoy E. Myers Jr., who is facing a civil suit for allegedly sexually harassing a former county employee, will not seek re-election.