January 04, 2008
And in the end, Chuck flops out

That breeze you felt this evening was that of a thousand sighs of relief from the local GOP.

The local Republican Party took its final applications for the March 4 primary for district attorney tonight without a boomerang move by disgraced incumbent Chuck Rosenthal or entries by multiple members of his prosecutor staff.

But the party may have to resolve a technical legal question about Rosenthal's earlier withdrawal from the ballot before the contest begins in earnest.

Now on the ballot are former felony court judge and former homicide detective Pat Lykos, assistant district attorney Kelly Siegler, defense lawyer and former prosecutor Jim Leitner and Doug Perry, who listed himself as a Houston police captain, lawyer and accountant.

That ought to be an interesting lineup. I foresee an awful lot of chest-thumping about who'll be more aggressive with the death penalty. The fact that most of said chest-thumping will likely come from the female candidates just adds a bit of zest to it. The next two months will not be boring around here, that's for sure.

There may yet be a twist or two remaining to this story:

The GOP line-up became final at 6 p.m. today, the sign-up deadline that was extended for two days after Rosenthal withdrew under pressure from the party to short-circuit his re-election campaign because of controversy over e-mails he sent to his executive secretary.

Rosenthal's one-sentence letter withdrawing from the ballot Wednesday may have been worded inexactly. It asked that his "nomination" be withdrawn even though he had not yet won the nomination in the primary. It also lacked notarization, which party leaders at first had said it must.

Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerald Birnberg, a lawyer, said the letter was invalid because it was not witnessed by a notary public -- and that the GOP is obligated to keep on the ballot Rosenthal and Leitner, the only ones on the ballot by the original deadline.

But County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, also a lawyer, said the Texas secretary of state's office and county attorney's office assured him the letter had complied with the law, which does not mention notarization. Instead, it says the letter must be signed and "acknowledged" by the candidate, which Birnberg said is legal terminology for notarized.

Birnberg, however, said he is unaware of any plans by the party or candidates to go court over the issue -- nor was he sure who would have legal standing to file such a lawsuit.

I'm not sure what I think about this. Mark Bennett is pretty sure the Republicans are wrong in their assertion that Rosenthal's withdrawal met the legal requirements, but unless someone files a suit - and from a strictly political perspective, I'm not sure that's a winner for anyone who would have standing and a decent motive to do so - it's a moot point.

So this part of the story is sadly over, but if David Benzion is correct, there's more juicy stuff, related to those deleted emails on the way. Did I mention that things are not going to be boring around here? These are good days to be a blogger.

Oh, and I can't let this go without noting one of the most awesome sentences ever to appear in the Chronicle:

The e-mails never referred directly to sex acts other than Rosenthal's plan to kiss her behind her right ear the next time he saw her.

The joke is left as an exercise for the reader.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 04, 2008 to Election 2008

I would have trouble helping out a "candidate" until I knew for sure that they would be on the ballot.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on January 4, 2008 8:47 PM

I agree with Mark Bennett on this. Rosenthal's "withdrawal" lacks an acknowledgment, which the statute clearly requires. I don't see how a court can uphold this withdrawal. (Who has standing to file suit is another issue, but I'm willing to bet the Dems do have standing.)

An acknowledgment is a statement that the signer executed the document for the purposes and consideration expressed in it. The statement is signed and sealed by a notary public (or certain other officials). You often find acknowledgments in deeds and other contracts; they're essentially a check that the signature is valid and that the signer is not under duress when signing the document.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on January 6, 2008 8:06 PM