Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
A losing Republican candidate’s case to overturn his November 2022 election results was dismissed this week by one of the state’s top legislative leaders.
Republican Mike May had filed what’s known as an election contest with the Texas secretary of state’s office in early December, asking the Legislature to void the results of the midterm election and order a new one. Texas’ election law allows any candidate to contest the results.
May, who ran to represent House District 135 in the Houston area, lost his bid to Democratic incumbent Jon Rosenthal by more than 6,000 votes. May argued in his petition that the results of the election were not the “true outcome” because of paper ballot shortages at some polling places in Houston on Election Day.
House Speaker Dade Phelan this week dismissed May’s case, citing May’s failure to comply with procedural rules laid out in the election law. In a Jan. 9 letter addressed to May and obtained by The Texas Tribune, Phelan said the election contest was dismissed because May had not submitted the "security of costs" fee to the House of Representatives on time.
May could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rosenthal said he felt that May’s challenge was “without merit” and that he was pleased with the dismissal.
“For a challenge to be sustained, you have to demonstrate that a specific number of voters who would have voted for you were disenfranchised,” Rosenthal said. “This challenge had no claims like that.”
May was one of more than 20 losing Republican candidates in Harris County who filed election contests, citing reports of Election Day issues. According to the county’s recent post-election assessment, some November polling sites opened late and ran out of paper, issues that losing candidates argue prevented people from voting on Election Day. The report said the county investigation “has not yet revealed” whether any voters were turned away.
Unlike May’s challenge, the other contests mostly came from candidates who ran for judicial offices, including Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer, who ran to be county judge of Texas’ most populous county but lost to incumbent Lina Hidalgo.
Those contests are all being handled by a district court, not by the Legislature. The cases are expected to proceed over the next few months, according to Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee.
In a Wednesday statement, Menefee applauded the Legislature for dismissing May’s contest.
“This quick dismissal shows these election contests are largely about political posturing and undermining our democratic processes,” Menefee said. “I thank Speaker Phelan and Representative Morgan Meyer for upholding the law and ensuring the will of the voters stands.”
Harris County Democratic Party Chair Odus Evbagharu said in a statement that the election contests are part of an effort to “fuel election denialism” and he hopes the remaining contests are dismissed.
“This feeble attempt to grasp at straws has become a sad tradition for Republican candidates,” Evbagharu said. “I’m happy that Representative Rosenthal can now spend his time this session focusing on passing legislation that will improve the lives of the residents of House District 135.”
Disclosure: Texas Secretary of State has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.