Dallas County Republicans have filed a lawsuit to have 128 Democrats kicked off the March 6 primary ballot. The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County late Friday, contends that Dallas County Democratic Party Chairman Carol Donovan didn't sign the petitions ...and more »
Updated at 11 a.m. with names of candidates who could or would not be affected.
Dallas County Republicans have filed a lawsuit to have 128 Democrats kicked off the March 6 primary ballot.
The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County late Friday, contends that Dallas County Democratic Party Chairman Carol Donovan didn't sign the petitions of 128 Democratic Party candidates before sending them to the Texas Secretary of State's office, as required by law.
"The Election Code says the chairman, and nobody else, has to sign them," said Elizabeth Alvarez Bingham, a lawyer for the Dallas County Republican Party. "Carol Donovan is the chair. She was supposed to sign them. She didn't do it."
The news stunned some Democrats after a lawyer for their party notified them of the lawsuit Sunday afternoon.
"We have assembled a legal team of Dallas' best and brightest Democratic election law attorneys," Donovan said late Sunday in a news release. "Though we are taking this case seriously, the Republican Party's lawsuit is not supported by Texas law. We will fight to ensure that all Democratic voters in Dallas County can participate in a fair Primary election."
"This is just Republican shenanigans," said state Sen. Royce West, one of the names Republicans want tossed off the ballot. "Republicans are trying to drive a wedge in the Democratic Party because they can't be competitive in the county."
State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, is also one of the candidates targeted by Republicans.
"Texas Republicans are constantly looking for ways to disenfranchise minority voters," Johnson said. "They have done it at the state level in Austin and now they are trying to do it at the local level in Dallas County. The vast majority of the Democratic candidates who were targeted by the DCRP's frivolous lawsuit are minorities. This is just the latest attempt by Texas Republicans to take away the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice."
But Bingham said West should't criticize Republicans for the failure of their local party leaders to do their jobs.
If the GOP lawsuit is successful in getting the Democrats kicked off the ballot, Republicans could have clear paths to victory in dozens of general election races in November.
According to the lawsuit, only a fraction of the candidate petitions approved by Donovan actually contained a signature by her hand. The GOP lawsuit alleges Donovan's signature on other petitions was not hers.
At least seven ballot petitions from Democratic candidates have been challenged, both by Republicans and other Democrats.
"We didn't do this as election strategy. It's our job to follow the election code," she said. "Their candidates should not be upset with us. They should be upset with the Dallas County Democratic Party."
On Monday local Republicans cast themselves as the party of "law and order" and insisted that Dallas County Democrats follow the election code.
"When it comes to election law and protecting the sanctity of the ballot we take this legal obligation seriously," according to a statement released by the Dallas County Republican Party. "Unfortunately, the Dallas County Democratic Party flouts election law and appears to be resorting to forgery when it comes to the core requirement that their county chair sign candidate petitions. We demand Democratic leadership start upholding the sanctity of signatures."
Republicans have pointed out that Donovan did sign a few of the petitions and claim the rest were forged by another person.
"While Dallas County Democratic Chair Carol Donovan chosen to sign the petitions of some candidates, she neglected to provide her signature for many, many more - 128 more," according the the statement. "Laws have consequences and the law is crystal clear, only the county Chair can sign candidate applications, not others purporting to be the county Chair. Certifying candidates for inclusion on the ballot without the Chair's official signature is a violation of the law Texas Election Code, §§ 141.037 and 72.029(a)(2)."
Donovan said the motives of Republicans are clear.
"It is clear by this attack that the Dallas County GOP cannot win at the ballot box, so they are trying to litigate their way into victories in Dallas County, with no concern for Dallas County voters," Donovan said. "Instead of playing Trump-style politics, they'd be better off legitimately recruiting and fielding their own primary candidates."
Among the candidates the lawsuit names as having a bogus signature on their applications are West and incumbent state Reps. Victoria Neave, Toni Rose and Johnson. Others without the correct signature, the lawsuit says, are County Commissioner Elba Garcia, sheriff candidates Marian Brown and Roy Williams and Dallas County district attorney candidates John Cruezot and Elizabeth Frizell.
Here is the list of candidates that the lawsuit said had Donovan's actual signature on their ballot applications. The lawsuit said the rest of the applications had a signature that does not match Donovan's.
1. Barbara Mallory Caraway, Congressional District 30
2. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Congressional District 30
3. Nathan Johnson, state Senator, District 16
4. Joe Bogen, state Senator, District 16
5. Robert Alonzo, state Representative, District 104
6. Thresa "Terry" Meza, state Representative District 105
7. Yvonne Davis, state Representative District 111
8. Brandy K. Chambers, state Representative District 112
9. Billy Ingram, state Representative District 113
10. John Turner, state Representative District 114
11. Martin Hoffman, District Judge, 68th Judicial District
12. Mary Brown, District Judge, 301st Judicial District
13. Cheryl Lee Shannon, District Judge, 305th Judicial District
14. Clay Jenkins, County Judge
15. Sally Montgomery, Judge, County Court at Law No. 3
16. Brenda Hull Thompson, Judge, County Probate Court-at-Law No.1
17. Johnny J. Lanzillo IV, Judge, County Criminal Court of Appeals No. 2
18. Dan Patterson, County Criminal Court-at-Law Court No.1
19. John F. Warren, County Clerk
20. Curtis "Traylor" Harris, Constable Precinct 3
21. Jeff Bryan, Constable, Precinct 5
22. Michael Orozco, Constable, Precinct 5
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