The Texas GOP is suing the Texas secretary of state to keep embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold off the 2018 primary ballot — one day after the Corpus Christi Republican announced he will not seek re-election in 2018.
Farenthold, who's facing a raft of allegations that he sexually harassed staffers and created a hostile work environment, had filed for re-election by the Monday deadline and missed the deadline the next day to withdraw. Still, he asked Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey on Friday not to include him on the ballot, according to the lawsuit, which notes Dickey has until Tuesday to submit the names of all primary candidates to the secretary of state.
Filed late Friday in federal court, the lawsuit calls into question the "incongruity" between the separate deadlines to withdraw and to hand over the names, while arguing Farenthold's appearance on the ballot at this point would violate the "First Amendment associational rights" of the party.
"In short, the State cannot constitutionally force any political party to be represented on the primary election ballot by a candidate with whom it does not wish to associate," the lawsuit said.
The primary race to replace Farenthold in Texas' 27th Congressional District is already well underway. A half dozen Republicans filed for the seat, including Bech Bruun, the former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, and Michael Cloud, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee.