This may be the last nail in Rep. Ciro Rodriguez' electoral coffin, though an appeal has been filed.
LAREDO — Democratic congressional hopeful Henry Cuellar prevailed today in a lawsuit against him alleging voter fraud in his primary election victory over U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez.
No evidence was presented in the trial, which lasted less than an hour and took place mostly in the judge's chambers.
Attorneys for Rodriguez, who trailed by 58 votes out of 50,000 cast after a recount in the March primary, had asked for more time to count ballots.
After retired state Judge Joseph Hart ruled there had been sufficient time to count the ballots in Webb and Zapata counties, Rodriguez attorney Buck Wood rested his case.
Hart then ruled in favor of Cuellar, whose attorney Steve Bickerstaff opposed further delay.
Rodriguez spokesman John Puder said Rodriguez will file an appeal with the state's 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio as early as Wednesday.
The Rodriguez camp perked up Friday after a second recount of ballots in Webb County, where Cuellar lives. Cuellar had an overall lead of 203 votes going in, but that margin shrunk by 145 votes by day's end.
According to the Texas Election Code, any ruling by the appeals court is not reviewable by the state Supreme Court. But it could be appealed to federal court if constitutional or voting rights issues are raised.