The Republican Party of Texas is suing the Texas secretary of state over an election filing deadline that prevents it from removing embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold from the ballot.
The move is in response to Farenthold’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in the spring. Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, made the decision after a House committee launched an investigation into sexual harassment claims made by a former aide against him. Allegations of lewd comments to another former aide have also emerged.
Farenthold’s name will still be on the March 6 primary ballot because his formal request to withdraw was received Friday, days after the Dec. 12 filing deadline.
The lawsuit argues that the deadline is arbitrary, considering that the Republican Party of Texas does not need to submit the names of each candidate until Dec. 19.
The lawsuit says this infringes on the “constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
"In instances where it is both administratively possible and practical — as it is here —the Republican Party of Texas does not wish to include the name of any 'candidate' on the Republican primary ballot who is not actually running for office," the lawsuit says.
The suit requests an injunction that would keep the state from enforcing the deadline.
Update: This story has been updated to correct the entity that sets the deadline. The deadline is set by the Texas Legislature through the Texas Election Code.