January 17, 2008
The other mandamus

I mentioned previously that the writ of mandamus filed on behalf of State Rep. Garnet Coleman's primary opponent to restore her to the ballot was rejected by the State Supreme Court and re-filed with the First Court of Appeals. The Court ruled on another mandamus petition Tuesday, affecting Democratic candidate for State Senate Wendy Davis.

The Texas Supreme Court rejected on procedural grounds an effort to keep Democrat Wendy Davis off the ballot in her challenge to GOP state Sen. Kim Brimer of Fort Worth.

A writ filed in Austin on Friday alleged that Ms. Davis was technically still a member of the Fort Worth City Council when she filed for the Senate seat. The state Supreme Court did not decide on the merits of the argument but instead ruled Monday that the writ must be filed first with the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth.

Rob Gibson, a spokesman for the three Fort Worth firefighters who filed the writ, said they went straight to the state Supreme Court to speed up the process. He said the goal is to get Ms. Davis off the ballot and give the Democrats a chance to select another candidate to face Mr. Brimer.

"These ... [firefighters] are record Democrats, and they don't believe that Wendy Davis is eligible," said Mr. Gibson, second vice president of the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association.

Matt Latham, campaign manager for Ms. Davis, said the Texas secretary of state's office has already deferred the decision on his client's eligibility to the county Democratic chairman. And the chairman, Art Brender, has ruled that Ms. Davis is eligible.

"This is another example of them not understanding the procedural issues," Mr. Latham said.


The writ was filed by Javier Cerda, Cullen Cox and Rickey Turner, all members of the firefighters association. The association has endorsed Mr. Brimer and was unhappy with Ms. Davis for her opposition to collective bargaining for firefighters.

Mr. Latham also noted that Republican political consultant Bryan Eppstein is working for Mr. Brimer's campaign and represented the firefighters in their successful collective bargaining campaign.

Pegasus News has some more background on the players involved.

One of the core arguments centers on when Joel Burns, Ms. Davis' successor on the council, was officially sworn into office. An existing officeholder isn't eligible to run for the Legislature until he or she has been officially replaced.

The Fort Worth city charter says the "new Council shall meet at City Hall and take the oath of office" at the first meeting after the votes are canvassed.

Mr. Gibson said the meeting and swearing-in ceremony Jan. 8 was the one making Mr. Burns an official council member and freed Ms. Davis from her previous duties. The deadline for filing for the March primary was Jan. 2.

Ms. Davis' campaign said she beat the clock when Mr. Burns held a private swearing-in ceremony Jan. 1, a day before the filing deadline. Mr. Latham mentioned a portion of the city charter that says a winning candidate "shall be entitled to qualify immediately after the declaration of the council" after the votes are canvassed.

He said that allowed Ms. Davis to revise her election filing to make it effective that following day.

That brings up another dispute. Mr. Gibson said Ms. Davis was required to formally withdraw her previous filing because it was not valid. Mr. Latham said she was only required to revise her filing, which she did.

I don't know enough about the law to hazard an opinion as to the merits of this mandamus. We'll see what the lower court says.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 17, 2008 to Election 2008
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