What the hell is going on in Fort Bend County?
Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright, the only Republican candidate for the office, was granted a temporary restraining order Friday, keeping the only Democratic candidate off his party's ballot.
The Democrat, Richmond lawyer Tom Steinmeyer, said Friday he plans to withdraw from the race anyway, "because I don't have the backing of the Fort Bend Democratic Party."
However, his decision does not make Wright's action moot.
Wright's attorney Rick Forlano explained that Texas law says a candidate who withdraws from a race must do so 65 days before the election, which in this case is March 9.
"That deadline has already passed," Forlano said.
Steinmeyer filed for the office Jan. 2, the deadline, with a check for $1,250.
The bank returned the check, citing insufficient funds in Steinmeyer's account, Forlano said, so Democratic chair Felicia Farrar took Steinmeyer's name off the ballot.
Steinmeyer blamed the bank for the bounced check. "The bank has admitted it was their mistake," he said Friday.
Steinmeyer later gave Farrar a cashier's check, and she placed him back on the ballot, prompting the sheriff's lawsuit, Forlano said.
Wright contends Steinmeyer is ineligible to run because his filing fee was not paid by the deadline set by law.
The order keeping Steinmeyer's name off the ballot expires Thursday afternoon, and Wright and Forlano will ask state District Judge Brady Elliott that morning to grant an injunction keeping Steinmeyer from running.
"If he does not want to run, the party chair simply needs to agree to that injunction," Forlano said.
Farrar could not be reached for comment Friday.
I think I speak for many when I say "Huh?!?!?"
First of all, I don't think a candidate should be punished for a bank's error. That just doesn't seem fair to me. I strongly disagree with the judge that gave the TRO.
Second, if the law says you can't withdraw within 65 days of an election, then it seems to me that there ought to be more time between the filing deadline and the election itself. It also seems to me that an unopposed primary candidate ought to be able to withdraw a lot later in the game if he or she wants to, since if that candidate is determined to not run, he or she will just be dropping out after the primary anyway. I do actually understand Wright's desire for the TRO, I just think it shouldn't have been necessary.
Finally, I don't understand at all Steinmeyer's assertion that he doesn't have the backing of the Fort Bend Democratic Party. If a party can't support a solo candidate running against the other team's incumbent, then what the hell are they good for? I've heard a rumor that Felicia Farrar is on the outs with the state party - if this story is part of the reason why, then I'd say "Right on". So I'll ask again: What is going on down there?Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 18, 2004 to Local politics | TrackBack