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Local Government

Dallas County GOP Uses a Boneheaded Clerical Error to Punk the Dems

Will it stand up in court? That's for a judge to decide. But it sure is good theater.
Jonathan Zizzo

Because I have a supernatural ability to write timely columns eight weeks before they are published, you’ll note that my February issue piece debuted on FrontBurner a few hours ago — the very morning that news broke about Missy Shorey’s lawsuit against the Dallas County Democratic Party. The story raises many fascinating legal questions, primary among them: is it possible that a boneheaded clerical snafu by the Dallas County Dems — i.e., the party chairwoman failing to personally sign petitions on behalf of local candidates — could get 128 of those candidates thrown off the ballot?

Answer: dunno! Not a lawyer. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some hot takes freshly baked and ready to consume.

Here, then, are five quick thoughts on the lawsuit and the hubbub it’s already caused:

1. My favorite quote in Gromer’s story was from State Sen. Royce West. “This is just Republican shenanigans,” said state West, one of the names Republicans want tossed off the ballot. “Republicans are trying to drive a wedge in the Democratic Party because they can’t be competitive in the county.” OH YOU THINK SO, DOCTOR?

Of course these are shenanigans designed to drive a wedge in the Dems. That’s what rival parties do to each other! And guess what? Pretty good wedge, Missy! If nothing else, you get people talking all week about how Democrats can’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, as I’ve noted previously.

2. I thought the smartest immediate response was state Rep. Eric Johnson’s press release, which characterized this not as party politics but as a voter suppression ploy. “Texas Republicans are constantly looking for ways to disenfranchise minority voters,” Johnson said. “They have done it at the state level in Austin and now they are trying to do it at the local level in Dallas County. The vast majority of the Democratic candidates who were targeted by the DCRP’s frivolous lawsuit are minorities. This is just the latest attempt by Texas Republicans to take away the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice.”

Much better talking points than “shenanigans.”

3. The not-for-attribution scuttlebutt: folks are not really concerned (yet) that this will end up with candidates like Johnson and Victoria Neave thrown off the ballot. They are talking about how, no matter what happens, this looks bad for county chairwoman Carol Donovan. I’ve been calling for new Dem blood at the county the entire past year, so I’m okay with those optics.

4. Sub-point to No. 3: there is a conspiracy theory already floating that the Democrats who want Donovan out are who tipped off the Republicans. Specifically, these theorists suggest that it was supporters of Donovan’s opponent in the race for county chair, Chris Hamilton, who did the double-cross. I don’t think that happened, but I do love that the paranoia runs that deep. Makes for good popcorn chomping.

5. To reiterate, I have no idea if this will hold up eight seconds in court. I do know, though, that from a PR standpoint, this was a pretty good dunk on local Dems by the underdog party in Dallas County. There’s no shame in that. We all get dunked on. It’s how you respond that matters.

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