Sen. Carlos Uresti wants his general election opponent, Michael Berlanga, removed from the ballot, and the San Antonio Democrat filed suit Wednesday alleging that Berlanga doesn't live in Senate District 19 and is ineligible to represent it.
According to public records included with the suit, Berlanga has claimed two residences since first filing — one in Converse, and another in San Antonio.
The former is a vacant lot next to a car wash, the suit claims, and the latter is the home of Dan and Linda Cheatum, identified in the suit as Berlanga’s sister and brother-in-law. Multiple websites list the Converse address as the site of the car wash service Wash Your Ride. State records register the San Antonio address under the Cheatums.
That suit names Secretary of State Hope Andrade as the defendant. The Elections Department is under the secretary of state's purview.
Berlanga did not return multiple calls to the phone number he listed when filing his candidacy, and emails sent to his campaign address bounced back. Representatives from the Republican Party of Texas didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.
If Berlanga is found ineligible to run, the Republican Party will have a chance to replace him on the ballot, said Randall “Buck” Wood, Uresti’s attorney. Berlanga was unopposed in the Republican primary.
The case is not politically motivated, Wood said, adding that he is “not trying to affect” the outcome of the District 19 race.
“We don’t have to run against an ineligible candidate,” Wood said. “That’s what the law is.”