Block the re-vote: Democracy a la carte is expensive

Two of the losing candidates in the June 13 runoff — District 2's Byron Miller and District 5's Lourdes Galvan -- have decided to call it quits despite their opponents' narrow margins of victory (54 in Miller's case, 45 for Galvan), clearing the way for a cloud-free swearing in this evening at City Hall. (In District 8, Reed trounced Berlanga.) While both cited the usual well-meaning platitudes about moving forward, etc., money no doubt played a role as well. A District 5 recount petition would have run more than 4 grand, and District 2's was a pricey $7,215. And that's just to essentially rerun the machine's tally.

If you really wanted to question the vote -- registration, validity, etc. -- as the Miller campaign suggested it might earlier this week, you're talking about an Election Contest, which requires a lawyer and more cash. One local elections attorney cites $7,500 as his fee to get the ball rolling, and a local political organizer suggested that the investigative footwork involved was easily a mid-five-figure investment.

Ten days before the runoff, Miller called Taylor's residency into question, alleging in a press release that she wasn't really living in the house she and her husband bought on Olive Street for six months before she filed, as required by City law. Now that Taylor's the victor, recent Texas court rulings suggest that Miller doesn't have standing to challenge her right to hold office, and would have to convince Texas AG Greg Abbott or Bexar County DA Susan Reed to take it up. A source close to the campaign implied that this political unlikelihood was a deciding factor in Miller's late-Thursday concession phone call to Taylor, but the QueBlog wonders if Miller's own well-documented residency questions didn't preclude a real challenge on this point.

But we also wonder whether the bars to requesting a recount or investigating possible voting irregularities are unnecessarily high?

Taylor, who hadn't spoken with the Miller campaign between the runoff and Miller's concession, says she wasn't surprised by her opponent's decision despite his campaign's early posturing.

“Well, it's pretty costly,” she said.

Maybe not as costly as the 2004 Cuellar/Rodriguez Democratic-primary vote showdown, because we're talking about far fewer than Webb County's 15,000 ballots. But we're also talking about smaller potatoes in the end: recorded City kickbacks average far less than the cost of the recount alone.

(Just kidding, of course. SA council members learned their lesson with Kike Martin and John Sanders a few years back & QueBlog is in no way impugning the character of the D2 candidates.)

Ed. note: This blog post has been corrected. It originally stated that "...recent Texas court rulings suggest that Wright doesn't have standing to challenge her right to hold office ...," instead of "...recent Texas court rulings suggest that Miller doesn't have standing to challenge her right to hold office." Wright was a candidate in the general election; he first raised the issue of Miller's residency. He threw his support to Taylor in the runoff.


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