Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Who Derailed Wendy Davis?

Is Wendy Davis going to get to run against Kim Brimer for the State Senate District 10 seat?

Obviously, Davis wants to -- she announced that back in August. Everything seemed like smooth sailing until Monday afternoon when three Fort Worth firefighters waltzed into Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters with a letter for local party poobah Art Brender. According to the Star-Telegram, the letter calls on the party to disqualify Davis from running because she is still a Fort Worth City Council member. Seems there is a little conflict between state and local law.

State law forbids sitting council members from running for the Legislature, but local law requires her to keep her seat until a successor is sworn in. Joel Burns, who won the special election runoff Dec. 18 to replace Davis, is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 8.

Brender has asked the secretary of state for a formal opinion on the issue, but there is a sense of urgency to the matter -- the deadline to file for the election is 5 p.m. tomorrow. Very interesting timing. Brender and Davis don't have a lot of time to figure this out.

So, I'm curious.

According to the Startlegram, the letter was sent by Cullen Cox, Rickey Turner and Javier Cerda, three firefighters who support the Democratic Party, according to Rob Gibson, second vice president of the Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association. If these guys truly support the Democratic Party, why would they derail a candidate who looked to have an excellent opportunity to unseat a very vulnerable and disliked Republican?

As one local Democrat told me this morning, the dots seem pretty easy to connect. The political consultant for the Fort Worth Firefighters is Republican political consultant Bryan Eppstein. The political consultant for Kim Brimer is -- you guessed it -- Republican political consultant Bryan Eppstein.

And just when you thought that firefighters spent all their off time studying arcane aspects of state and local law.

Still Davis potentially has time to recover. And as Machiavelli once said, never do your opponent a small wound. Why did the letter arrive in Brender's hands on Monday? Why not tomorrow? Or Thursday?

But if Davis is done, who steps in? I think Davis would have been a tough opponent for Brimer. She was popular enough -- and liberal enough -- to play well in South and West Fort Worth. And she was conservative enough to appeal to voters in the suburban part of District 10 like Colleyville, Mansfield and the suburbs south of Fort Worth. So, Art, who is waiting in the wings?

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Is everything falling into place for Wendy Davis? The S-T reports that Joel Burns was sworn in at a ceremony in his Ryan Place home this afternoon, apparently clearing the way for Davis' State Senate bid. This afternoon, Art Brender told a New Year's Day gathering at Fort Worth Democratic Party headquarters that he is unsure whether this means if Davis will need to withdraw her earlier filing for the Senate seat and submit a new filing tomorrow.


Pete said...

Why do Democrats hate winning so much? They're always torpedoing each other...

ears1foru said...

Falling into place??? Better read the City Charter it says that new council members SHALL be sworn in at the first Council Meeting following the canvas of votes at CITY HALL. Nothing says a council member-elect can decide to take his oath when he wants, where he wants. Great start for Joel, who I support, violate City Charter, anger State Senator, etc because he didn't do his homework. Wendy, who I do not support, hung him out for no reason. City Charter is very clear. (She also voted and accepted pay during the time she announced her resignation, unlike the Wentworth lawsuit that I am sure will be mentioned.)

Mondalejones said...

Wendy ain't out yet but she needs to get ready for a fight, probably in court. This has Bryan "Machiavelli" Epstien's finger prints all over. Unfortunately, he also has served as campaign advisor for many of the Republican judges who will hear the case.

According to City Attorneys, Joel can take the oath any time after the votes have been canvassed. The votes were canvassed last week. So a potential disability to Wendy's candidacy (I'm not sure there is one in the first place according to the Wentworth decision) has been removed.

This challenge demonstrates Brimer's fear of a face to face election against Democrats at the ballot box.

Democrats, get ready for a fight and stick with it. This will not be resolved in the next few days. Don't assume like we did in Florida in 2000 that the Republican Court system will do the right thing. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Suzette said...

I think there are many Democrats (and Independents) that are up for a good fight. How much of this is gray and how much is black & white? Hopefully, it's not a disqualification for Wendy Davis. It is so disheartening to read and/or watch Judges ruling cases along strict party lines as opposed to the law as mondalejones suggests.
Brimer & friends must really be worried to face Wendy Davis at the ballot box and rightfully so.

Pete - Good question.

Steve-O said...

Pete: this doesn't look like Dem vs. Dem, it looks like the first round of Davis vs. Brimer. Fasten your seatbelts!

ears1foru: Joel told the S-T that he had the go ahead from City attorneys to take the oath of office because the votes were canvassed as of the 27th.

Does that mean everything is in the clear? Not necessarily. I haven't looked at the City Charter, but I have a hard time believing that the city attorneys would steer him wrong on this one. However, when I spoke to Art Brender today about the Wentworth v. Meyer decision as it applies to this instance, it seems the case law left a lot of things open.

I don't believe this is the end of things on the legal front. But if Wendy Davis withdraws her earlier filing for the race and re-files tomorrow, the whole thing could be a moot point. Which doesn't necessarily mean the end of things on the legal front.

MondaleJones: Thanks for dropping by. Don't be a stranger.

Suzette said...

Can we go back to the run off election date? My understanding is that Gov. Ricky Dicky had a say in the actual election date for the run off election. Fort Worth wanted Dec. 11th but Ricky Dicky said Dec. 18th which is what created Wendy Davis' troubles. Any truth to this?

Anonymous said...

DUH...Everyone was focusing on House race..Senate is alot bigger deal. History of Council is no meeting between Christmas and New Years, Holidays fall on Tuesday...even with one special meeting city charter is very straight forward...one meeting to canvas, one to swear in. Council did vote to move their election day to match up with state, had they not Wendy would be on ballot, but the folks behind the scenes thought Council would do what they did.