Texas Democrats drop lawsuit over Rep. Blake Farenthold’s name on the ballot

Blake Farenthold
FILE - In this March 19, 2013 file photo, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee says it is continuing an investigation of Farenthold, despite a recommendation by an investigative panel that the complaint be dismissed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The same day the Texas Republican Party announced it would remove Rep. Blake Farenthold’s name from the March primary ballot, Texas Democrats sued to keep it there but then decided to drop the lawsuit a few hours later.

Farenthold, R-27 Corpus Christi, has been accused of verbal and sexual harassment in his office. He denies the allegations but announced Dec. 14 he would not run for reelection. However, he did not remove his name before a withdrawal deadline, so Texas Republicans worried it could still appear on the ballot.

They sued the Secretary of State’s Office, which manages elections. However, that office informed GOP officials they could submit whatever names they chose for the ballot, because it cannot force them to include a candidate. The Texas GOP dismissed its lawsuit.

On Wednesday morning, Texas Democrats sued both the Secretary of State and the Republican Party of Texas to prevent them from “circumventing the Texas Election Code and violating the U.S. Constitution,” according to the lawsuit.

The Democratic Party wanted the court to either determine that removing candidates is allowed — in which case Democrats wants to be able to do so as well — or find that the Republican party’s action is unconstitutional — and therefore keep Farenthold’s name on the ballot.

But, after a federal judge denied their request for an immediate injunction, the Democrats decided to pull the suit.

“It was not Blake Farenthold’s intent to game the system, to choose the successor or even to get out the race at the time the ballot period closed,” Chris Gober, an attorney representing the Texas Republican Party, told KXAN Tuesday when it was working to dismiss its lawsuit.

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