State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, can remain on the November ballot, the state's 5th Court of Appeals ruled this afternoon. Texas Democrats had sued to remove him, saying his vote in the Virginia elections in 2006 made him ineligible to serve in the Texas Senate. The court's ruling isn't yet available, but officials with both parties say the court told the lawyers this afternoon that Birdwell will remain.
A three-judge panel from that court ruled against the Democrats and said it won't consider rehearing the case because of pending election deadlines:
We conclude relators have not shown they are entitled to the relief requested. Accordingly,we deny relators’ petition for writ of mandamus. See TEx. R. APP. P. 52.8(a). By separate order, we deny Birdwell’s and Munisteri’s joint emergency motion to dismiss.Because of the apparent limited time remaining as to certain deadlines identified by the relators with regard to the general election, see TEX. ELEC. CODE ANN. § 145.064.065, no motion for rehearing will be entertained.
The full ruling is attached.
"The Republican Party was always confident that Sen. Birdwell is and has been a resident of Senatorial District 22 for the requisite period of time," GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri said in a press release.
The Democrats can appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, but they don't have much time to work with. "We’re reviewing the options with our attorneys," said party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray late Thursday afternoon. "Make no mistake, John Cullar is the only candidate whose eligibility is not in question."
Friday is the last day a candidate who's been removed from the ballot — for reasons ranging from ineligibility to second thoughts to death — can be replaced with another candidate for the November elections. Unless the courts tinker with the deadlines, it's the latest Birdwell could come off the ballot and be replaced by another Republican.
Tuesday, August 24, is the deadline for adding candidates to the ballot to fill in holes left by withdrawals. In lay terms, that means anyone removed from the ballot after tomorrow can't be replaced on the ballot without a court order.