Attorneys representing Harris County Democratic Chairman Lane Lewis and the state Democratic Party argued that perennial candidate [Lloyd] Oliver should be kept off the ballot because he violated a party rule prohibiting a complimentary remark he made about defeated District Attorney Pat Lykos, a Republican, but District Judge Bill Burke ruled that Oliver was not bound by that rule.
Burke also rejected the argument that the party, as a private association, has the right to determine who should be on the ballot, regardless of election results.
“I don’t think that what happened amounted to a rule violation under party rules,” Burke said after a two-hour hearing on Wednesday morning.
Oliver admitted saying that he would have voted for Lykos had he not been running against her. He told the court Wednesday that he made the statement the day after the primary, so she technically no longer was a candidate. He also argued that the party rule applied only to chairmen and other Democratic officials.
“I have a First Amendment right to compliment public officials,” he told the court.
The judge agreed.
“I don’t think that amounts to an endorsement of the Republican candidate, since she had been defeated by then, and it was coupled with a swipe at the prevailing candidate, Mike Anderson,” Burke said.
Oliver, who told the court that Wednesday was his birthday and that he was either 68 or 69, had likened Anderson to a prison guard.
Responding to the argument that a political party had the right to determine who should be on the ballot, Burke noted that most of the cases that Democratic Party attorneys cited involved decisions reached before voters went to the polls in party primaries.
“It seems to me to be a different situation that we have here when the party accepts the filing fee, Oliver campaigns, does whatever he does to win the election and does receive the majority of the votes in the primary,” the judge said.
The case had been remanded to state court last Friday, as noted by commenter Jerad Najvar in my previous post. You know how I feel about this. I agree with Judge Burke’s reasoning, and I think he would have set a potentially dangerous precedent had he ruled otherwise. The situation the party is in is unfortunate, but these things happen and it’s not right to undo the result of a primary over a silly statement by a silly person. (Speaking of the primary, the version of the story I saw said that Oliver won it “by 30,000 votes”. He actually won it by a bit less than 3,000 votes, as you can see on page 19 here. Math is hard, y’all.) The best course of action, which is what I plan to go back to doing, is to ignore the guy. It’s not like he’s going to be out on the campaign trail making further mischief. If Oliver subsequently manages to win this election as well, we should all remind him that he only filed for the race to increase his name ID. Having unquestionably achieved this objective, he should then go ahead and resign, so that he can collect the reward for his higher profile. I mean, actually being DA would be bad for his business as a defense attorney, am I right? Let us speak of this no more until after November 6. You can go back to sleep now, Lloyd. PDiddie has more.