Senate District 22 is officially a contested race; will it be decided by the court or the voters?

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that the Democratic party has named Waco lawyer John Cullar as their candidate for SD 22. After CPA Sen. Kip Averitt won the Republican primary for this race (there was no Democratic candidate), he resigned from his seat and the ballot. A district's party precinct chairs must select a nominee in such instances, and the Republicans selected Sen. Brian Birdwell, who had won the special election to fulfill Averitt’s unexpired term. Now the Democrats have nominated Cullar, a former McLennon County Democratic Party Chairman. Despite having no candidate in the race before, Averitt’s resignation allows the Ds another chance.

According to the Daily Buzz in Harvey Kronberg's always excellent Quorum Report, the Democrats have filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus in the Fort Worth Court of Appeals questioning Birdwell’s eligibility. The press has been full of articles during the special election and subsequently questioning Birdwell’s eligibility to serve. The Texas constitution imposes a five-year residency requirement for service, and many have questioned whether Birdwell meets that criteria. During the special election Birdwell’s opponent, former Sen. David Sibley, raised the residency issue with the Secretary of State, but Birdwell was certified for the election regardless. Before appointing Birdwell, lawyers for Texans for Lawsuit reform, who support Birdwell, reviewed the situation and declared Birdwell eligible. Also during the special election Birdwell received a declaratory judgment from a court stating that he was eligible to serve.  Some press reports have questioned the validity of that judgment because those that might oppose it were not notified of the hearing. Now the Democrats are evidently hoping to win SD 22 by default.  I guess they don’t much like their chances at the polls in this heavily Republican district.

The Waco Tribune-Herald offers more analysis of the lawsuit on their Waco Politics Report blog.

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