Wednesday, January 02, 2008

No Ruling on Davis' Eligibility in Senate District 10 Race

The Fort Worth Star Telegram is reporting that Wendy Davis' eligibility in the Senate District 10 race is still murky.
The secretary of state's office said today that it will not make a ruling on whether Democrat Wendy Davis is ineligible to run for state Senate, placing the issue in the hands of Tarrant County Democratic Chairman Art Brender.

"Our office has talked to Mr. Brender and let him know that since he is the filing authority for this election, that ultimately it's his decision to make," said Scott Haywood, a spokesman for the office.....

Haywood said state law appears "to be a bit unclear" on whether an elected official is eligible to run for higher office upon resignation or must wait until a successor is sworn in.

There is a bit of risk in this strategy for the Republicans. As Steve Smith at Pegasus News remarked, "never do your opponent a small wound." If Davis ends up unable to run and the Democrats field no one else, the GOP has protected a vulnerable Republican in a crucial race. But if Davis' candidacy goes forward, the Republicans will have been too clever by half.

Davis isn't facing disqualification over incompetence, corruption or morality. She was required by law to serve in some statutory role until Joel Burns was officially sworn in. If she's allowed to run, there will be references to the eligibility question for the rest of the campaign. And what voters will remember is that Republicans tried to trip Davis up over a technicality.

The party diehards might admire this, but the average voter isn't that strongly affiliated with a political party. They will rightfully perceive this as an attempt to deny them a choice in this election. One of Brimer's vulnerabilities as a candidate is his low voter recognition. It's hard to imagine that having this issue define him throughout the campaign helps his image.

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