The Republican Party of Texas filed a lawsuit Friday aiming to kick Democrat Pete Gallego off the ballot in the special election runoff to replace convicted former state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio.
Gallego is heading to a runoff election against Republican Pete Flores. However, the state party claims in the lawsuit that Gallego lives in Austin, not in Senate District 19, which includes parts of San Antonio and West Texas.
"Pete Gallego has established a longtime pattern of misleading the voters of Texas regarding his place of residency. It's common knowledge Gallego does not live in Senate District 19," Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey said in a statement. “He has for years lived with his family in Austin, where his wife has a homestead exemption; this well-known and well-documented."
The lawsuit comes a little more than a week after the special election to replace Uresti, who resigned this summer after being found guilty of 11 felonies including securities fraud and money laundering. The final results of the race showed Flores — who racked up endorsements by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — leading Gallego by 5 percentage points, 34 percent to 29 percent. At 24 percent, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, came in third in the eight-way race.
Under state law, a candidate has to reside in the district he or she hopes to represent for a year before election day. Residency claims are notoriously hard to prove, however, because that doesn't always mean that a candidate actually lives in the district.
Gallego campaign manager Christian Archer responded to the lawsuit in a statement, calling it frivolous and saying the state GOP “should be fined for even filing it.”
“Pete Gallego has lived in Alpine since 1989 when he returned home to become a local felony prosecutor,” Archer said. “Pete is registered to vote in Alpine, where he has always voted, and where he pays his utilities. This lawsuit is a desperate move on behalf of a failing campaign.”
A spokesperson for the Texas secretary of state said their office had no comment at this time.
Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.