Sorry, Willie D

I think you need better lawyers, dude.

Willie Dennis

William Dennis, the former Geto Boys rapper known as “Willie D,” is planning to a host a campaign fundraiser Friday for his City Council bid, but election officials say voters won’t be able to cast ballots for him Nov. 5.

Dennis’ campaign for Houston City Council’s District B seat ostensibly ended about a month ago, when he missed a late-August deadline to file as a write-in candidate. He did not file an earlier campaign form that would have secured him a spot on the ballot.

Dennis was surprised Thursday when a reporter told him voters would not be able to support him on the Nov. 5 ballot. He said he interpreted the law differently and was planning to run as an “open write-in candidate, which means that I don’t have to be on the ballot.”

County election officials, however, said there will not be a write-in choice for District B because no candidate submitted the required declaration form.

“District B does not have a write-in option, so, therefore, no one would be able to vote for him,” said Teneshia Hudspeth, a spokeswoman for Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman, who administers elections in Harris County.

Dennis said he and his attorney would seek clarification from election officials Friday.

“We’re going to talk to the city attorney first thing in the morning,” Dennis said.


Below the “Willie D For District B” invite is an important reminder: “Remember to click the Write-In button on the ballot and write-in Willie ‘Willie D’ Dennis.”

That button will not exist, per the county officials.

Even if voters could write his name in, the Texas Election Code stipulates that those ballots would not count.

“In an election for city officers, a write-in vote may not be counted unless the name written in appears on the list of write-in candidates,” the law says.

Dennis said he and his lawyer were looking at a preceding portion of the same chapter that says: “Except as otherwise provided by law, if the name of the person for whom a voter desires to vote does not appear on the ballot, the voter may write in the name of that person.”

See here and here for the background. That second link, among other things, notes that there is a write-in candidate certified for District D. You can find the chapter of the Elections Code that covers write-in candidates here. It’s true that in the introduction to this chapter, it says what Dennis’ lawyers cite. But – and I know that I Am Not A Lawyer, but this is really super simple – that bit about “except as otherwise provided by law” means “unless there is a specific law addressing the subject in question”. And following that are entire subchapters about write-in candidates for state and county offices, and write-in candidates for city offices, both of which specify that you have to file a declaration that is then certified by the local elections administrator, by a certain deadline. Willie D didn’t do that, so therefore his write-in candidacy doesn’t count. You really don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that.

So when can one be a write-in candidate and not have to worry about filing paperwork? Elections not covered by this chapter would include school boards, MUDs, and whatever other local government entities there may be that aren’t state, county, or city. I’m sure there are plenty of other lawyers in Houston that could have explained this to Willie D.

UPDATE: Willie D has conceded.

Willie D’s campaign for city council ended before it could even begin.

The former Geto Boys rapper, whose full name is William Dennis, said Friday he was effectively dropping out of the District B race after acknowledging that voters wouldn’t be able to support him in the Nov. 5 election. Dennis had declined to file paperwork with the city that would have put him on the ballot or qualified him as a write-in candidate.

He was set to officially kick off his campaign with a fundraiser Friday night until a reporter called Thursday asking about the ballot woes. Dennis said Saturday he didn’t know yet how much money they raised at the event, but he planned to redirect the funds toward flood victims and a local church.

He made the announcement he would end his campaign Friday in an Instagram video.

Willie D had chosen not to file because of questions about a past felony conviction. I agree with him that the law in question should be amended and that people like Willie D who have served out their sentence should be allowed to vote and to run for office. I hope Willie D will turn his attention to lobbying for this change in the Legislature.

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One Response to Sorry, Willie D

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    If you are a felon and have fully served your sentence, paid all the fined, restitution, and done everything required, you absolutely SHOULD be able to run for office. America is a country that believes in second chances.

    Having said that, I don’t want a guy who sang THIS anywhere around government:

    BOOM BOOM BOOM on your black ass, bitch!

    Here’s another hit from my shit

    I made a couple of moves and five-oh were outsmarted

    Here’s part two of how I started

    Slangin them thangs on a dope cut

    Five-ohs are ridin my dick, but so WHAT?

    What can you do to a nigga like Face?

    And why you sweatin Ak in the the first place?

    That’s the motherfuckin problem

    See a young nigga rollin a Beemer and gotta stop him

    But I’m a tell you like this, heh

    All lawmen suck dick!

    Sneaky as hell and try to bust ya

    But you can die motherfuckers, cause bitch I don’t love ya

    You’re makin it harder, on my fellas

    These dopefiend bitches, and the big drug sellers

    How can you preach to the fiends that they should quit

    While Barry’s up in Washington smokin that shit!

    You need to get yourself a life or keep tryin

    Or more and more cops’ll be dyin, cause I am

    Sick of seein niggaz bein shortstopped

    By a buck-oh-five dick and a booty-ass cop

    You figure you’re hard cause you’re a cop see

    FUCK WITH ME! I’m a put that ass in a box G

    Cause I don’t give two fucks about ya punk

    You may carry a 45 but yo I pack a pump

    And you can step up if you want, bitch

    I ain’t askin no questions, I’m goin for my shit

    Did the Sikh deputy sheriff who was just murdered suck dick? I’m guessing he did not. Trump grabbed ’em by the pussy and they let him, because he’s a star. Pretty sure going for a pump shotgun to gun down police officers isn’t consensual between the cop and the suspect.

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