Simmons doesn’t meet residency requirements for SD 17 Special Election

Today, Chris Bell for Texas Senate filed a lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State and Stephanie E. Simmons and will seek emergency injunctive relief. Stephanie Simmons filed for Senate District 17 at the last possible second on the deadline last Friday. In its lawsuit, the Bell campaign argues that she does not meet the residency requirements.

“Chris Bell has always stood up when others try to manipulate the political process and not play by the rules. He stood up to Tom DeLay on that front, and won. Unfortunately, Ms. Simmons is far outside the rules of engagement with her illegal candidacy, and her Republican backers know it. Bell has no choice but to act now in filing suit against the Secretary of State before voters are duped by this cynical Republican ploy,” said Bell spokesman Jason Stanford.

Stephanie Simmons filed for SD 17 at 5 p.m. on Aug. 29, the deadline. She made no public announcement and has thus far not returned press or political calls. The Republican-appointed Secretary of State immediately certified the ballot, not allowing any administrative remedy in this matter. Therefore, the Bell campaign has no choice but to challenge Simmons’ residency in court to get her off the ballot.

“Chris Bell is the Democrat in this race. Any attempt to distract from that is clearly a Republican attempt to stop Chris from running over his opponents without a run-off. The Republicans are well-aware of this, and that’s why they’ve introduced a phantom ‘Democrat’ into the race. I support Chris Bell, and mainstream voters in Senate district 17 will too,” said Texas Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“Stephanie Simmons is probably a nice person, but we cannot know. She filed at the last second, made no public announcement whatsoever, and is not returning anyone’s calls as far as I know. I am very concerned that she may well be the Republican pawn we’ve heard would be coming to force a runoff. This is a desperate attempt to keep Senate District 17 in Republican hands. Chris Bell is the real deal. That’s why I’m supporting him and will do everything I can to help him win,” said Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis.

Republicans need another Democrat in the race to force Chris Bell into a runoff. A poll conducted by Cooper and Secrest in August shows that Chris Bell has a 34-point lead over the three Republican candidates who remain clustered in a statistical tie for second place. The initial trial heat, asked of 400 likely special election voters Aug. 14-18, has Chris Bell at 42%, with Republicans Joan Huffman at 8%, Austen Furse at 5%, and Grant Harpold at 4%.

“Chris Bell is the proven Democrat in this race. I am confident he is going to win this election, and there is nothing the Republicans can do to slow his momentum. It is no secret Republicans are scared and know they can very easily lose this race. This is clearly a Republican move right out of Karl Rove’s playbook to put up a stalking horse candidate in a cynical attempt to distract voters from the fact that Bell is the only candidate who stands with mainstream Texans on important issues like supporting our public schools, keeping Texas’ economy strong, and expanding accessibility to health care for our children and elderly,” said Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

The special election to be held on Election Day, November 4th will fill the vacancy created by Sen. Kyle Janek’s resignation. A runoff will follow if no candidate in the special election gets a majority.