In Texas both the Democratic and Republican parties hold primaries to determine who will be facing off in a general election. There is no party registration in Texas. Anyone can vote in either primary - the only restriction being that you can only vote in one party's primary and you can't vote in any run-off unless you voted in the primary.
Last May the parties held their primary elections. As you know, the incumbent District Attorney, Pat Lykos, was trounced by Mike Anderson and his "bring back the good ol' boys" campaign tour. On the Democratic side, perennial candidate Lloyd Oliver shocked the establishment and beat fellow criminal defense attorney Zach Fertitta in the primary.
Democratic officials went into a panic for Mr. Oliver has no party loyalty. He has run, and lost, in the past as both a Democrat and a Republican. He has admitted that the only reason he runs for office is to keep his name in the media to generate business.
Mr. Oliver has been indicted multiple times for barratry but has escaped relatively unscathed every time. He sent local Democratic party officials into a tizzy when he praised Ms. Lykos for some of the things she did in office. I have done the same thing. Her policy on so-called trace cases is the right thing to do. The very idea of sending someone to prison for possessing less than 1/100 of a gram of a controlled substance is beyond ridiculous. But don't tell that to Mike Anderson.
Mr. Oliver said that if he weren't running for District Attorney that he'd vote for Ms. Lykos.
That was enough for local Democratic party head Lane Lewis who decided he'd heard enough and that it was time to pull the plug on Mr. Oliver's candidacy. So, just like the party bosses from days gone by, Mr. Lewis snapped his fingers and wished the party's primary for DA away. Mr. Lewis decided that his opinion counted for more than the 57,000 or so folks who cast their ballots for Mr. Oliver.
And so, on Monday, the candidate struck back, filing suit in Harris County to put his name back on the ballot for the November general election. Mr. Lewis, fearing that a Harris County court might just give a little credence to the voices of Harris County residents wasted no time in getting the case removed to federal court.
Mr. Lewis' decision is both irresponsible and reprehensible. Removing the party's elected nominee for the top spot on the local ballot just concedes the race to Mike Anderson. And if Mr. Lewis got his panties all in a wad over Mr. Oliver's praise of Ms. Lykos, his removing Mr. Oliver from the ballot is not short of an all-out endorsement for the man who wants to take the DA's Office back to the good ol' days under Johnny Holmes and Chuck Rosenthal. Remember those days?
If Mr. Oliver's sin was to acknowledge that he preferred Ms. Lykos to Mr. Anderson, it doesn't compare to Mr. Lewis' doing what he could to ensure Mr. Anderson's election in November. If the wages of Mr. Oliver's sin is being removed from the ballot, Mr. Lewis should be removed from office.
Election law is not my forte but I know enough to know that it's awfully damn hard to win as a plaintiff in federal court. And it is quite ironic that the head of a local party is asking the feds to get involved in a local election.
If Mr. Lewis is so damn concerned about the upcoming election, perhaps he should be spending the party's time and money on get-out-the-vote campaigns and promoting the party's slate of candidates instead of airing the party's dirty laundry in public and actively campaigning against the choice of the people.
You want to avoid something like this happening again, Mr. Lewis? Then you might want to think about changing the rules on who gets to run in the party's primary before the next election cycle. Your job is to get local Democrats elected - now go do it.
Update: The link to the petition isn't working right now. I will upload the petition to Scribd later this morning so you can read it here.
Update II: The link should now be operational. If you have any issues accessing Mr. Oliver's petition, please let me know.