Brian Walker, the losing Republican challenger to State Rep. Chuck Hopson in the second closest election of the year in HD11, has filed paperwork for an election contest in the House. From the Quorum Report:
After the recount, Hopson beat Walker by more than 200 votes.
In his statement, Walker said, "The petition contains allegations of improper election procedures in Cherokee County that may have compromised the integrity of the election process. According to the Walker Campaign, an election contest is the only opportunity left for East Texas voters to get honest answers to some very troubling questions that were not answered before or during the recount process as well as a few that have arisen since. The allegations in the Petition for Election Contest are based on information provided by third parties to the Walker Campaign, first-hand observations by Walker campaign volunteers on Election Day, and first-hand observations by individuals overseeing the recount process in Cherokee County. The campaign is in the process of investigating each of the allegations individually to determine their level of merit."
At first blush, this would appear to be Speaker politics games. However, law and precedent would have Hopson sworn in on the first day along with his colleagues. The only vote he would not be able to participate in would be on the Walker election contest challenge if it actually made it to the House floor many weeks down the road..
Attorney Buck Wood said, "With Walker down more than 200 votes they have absolutely no chance on this. I think it was purely defensive because they thought we might seek to contest the Linda Harper-Brown election and I would have if we had pulled ahead after re-considering the de-selected votes. But we didn't."
"I doubt they will even pursue this," Wood said. "It would require proving systematic fraud."
Vince notes that this is the first election challenge in the House since Talmadge Heflin tried to overturn Rep. Hubert Vo's victory in 2005. I'd add that there were at one point a total of three election challenges in that cycle; the others were by Eric Opiela against Rep. Yvonne Gonzales Toreilles in HD35 and by former Rep. Jack Stick against Rep. Mark Strama in HD50. Stick dropped his challenge shortly thereafter, and Opiela followed suit before it got underway. My suspicion is that Walker's challenge will dissolve before it begins, but you never know. Trail Blazers has more.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 18, 2008 to Election 2008