A North Texas Democrat is challenging her recent runoff election loss against the party’s winner, claiming voter fraud marred their race for U.S. House of Representatives.
The accused since fired back, denying all wrongdoing.
On June 11, Democrat Ruby Faye Woolridge sued Jana Lynne Sanchez (D-Waxahachie), who won the May 22 primary runoff election by 717 votes to become the party’s nominee in Texas Congressional District 6. Woolridge, a longtime Arlington community activist, accused Sanchez of influencing the race’s outcome by “knowingly” filing petitions “with fraudulent signatures” to get on the ballot.
In the petition, Woolridge claimed that Sanchez “concealed” this fraud from local Democratic authorities through “circulators” who signed forged petitions before a “notary public under duress.” Woolridge said she discovered the issue after the “initial primary election.” She contended some voters were deprived their right to vote because someone previously submitted for them mail-in ballots and these allegedly fraudulent votes were tallied in the vote total.
Woolridge also named other notables in the petition filed in Ellis County District Court: Texas Democrat Party Committee Chair Gilbert Hinojosa, Navarro County Democrat Chair Linda Mertz, Ellis County Democrat Chair Nancy Cannady, Tarrant County, Democrat Chair Deborah Peoples, and Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos.
In 2016, Woolridge was the Democrat nominee for Congressional District 6 seat held by now disgraced U.S. House Representative Joe Barton (R-TX). In November, he announced he would not seek another term in office after past sexual images he shared privately surfaced online.
Her attorney, James E. Polk, told The Dallas Morning News: “I’m a Democrat myself.” He said he would not have taken the case if he thought it did not have merit. “Obviously, I’m not happy about filing this one way or another because it may not look good for the party, for the whole system.”
The Dallas Morning News endorsed Woolridge for the Democrat primary race in February.
On Monday, Sanchez contested Woolridge’s accusations through her attorney David R. Schleicher. In a legal summary, he called Woolridge’s petition “frivolous” and a “moot lawsuit.” Sanchez denied “any fraud” in her campaign.
Schleicher countered Woolridge’s claims, saying a “small group of signatures that raised suspicions were set aside before ballot petition filing.” He contended that those signatures “appear to have been collected by a person later revealed to have been helping the Woolridge campaign while paid as a contractor for the Sanchez campaign and who later openly moved over to the Woolridge camp.”
Then, Schleicher asked the court to dismiss the case under the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act which protects individuals from a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), legal actions that intimidate or silence people on “issues of public concern.”
Sanchez touted a 53 percent lead in the May runoff. Her November midterm opponent will be Republican Ron Wright, a former Tarrant County tax collector.
This latest entanglement follows a rash of other losing Texas Democrat candidates who claimed voter fraud and sued the party’s winner during the 2018 primary cycle.
In June, Kleberg County Democrat challenger Ofelia “Ofie” Gutierrez sued incumbent Esequiel “Cheque” De La Paz after losing by six votes in a justice of the peace May runoff race. Gutierrez asserted that illegal vote harvesting and fraudulent mail-in ballots cost her the election. She asked the court to either declare her the winner or schedule a new election if they found foul play.
In April, Starr County Democrat contenders Leticia Garza Galvan and Martie Garcia Vela filed a joint lawsuit after losing in their respective March 6 primary bids for county offices against other Democrat candidates. They blamed vote harvesting, mail-in ballot fraud, and in-person voting irregularities, the county’s record keeping failures, inability to secure ballot boxes, and official misuse of power.
In March, two former district judges vying for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County District Attorney wound up in a legal battle. Elizabeth Frizell sued winner John Creuzot, blaming mail-in ballot voter fraud for her loss. She also named the Dallas County Democratic Party chair, the county elections administrator, and the sitting Republican county DA.
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