Politics & Government

June 5, 2014

Burnam drops suit challenging primary election loss

Longtime state Rep. Lon Burnam said he is dropping a suit because he can’t review the election records.

After months of legal wrangling, state Rep. Lon Burnam announced Thursday that he will not continue with his challenge of his primary election loss.

Shortly after losing on March 4 by 111 votes to local businessman Ramon Romero Jr., Burnam, D-Fort Worth, sued, saying the election for state House District 90 was tainted by illegal mail-in ballots.

Now, after three courts — including the state’s top civil court — refused to order the release of the applications for those ballots, Burnam has asked his legal team to drop the case.

“I did not make this decision because I believe my opponent won fairly, or that our suspicions of illegal conduct in the election have not played out,” Burnam said in a statement.

“I made this decision because the Texas Supreme Court has denied our final appeal for a subpoena to see county vote-by-mail records, making it impossible to prove that more than 111 ballots were illegally cast.

“These records will become public after the general election in November and I plan to revisit the issue at that time.”

Romero said he’s glad Burnam is dropping the lawsuit.

“We ran a race fair and square,” he said. “We asked people to vote for us and they did.

“I’m excited to begin the work of the district.”

No Republican ran for the District 90 seat.

Burnam’s suit questioned whether Romero ran an “illegal computerized-signature vote-by-mail operation.” He noted that nearly 1,000 of the 5,078 votes cast in the race were absentee mail-in ballots and said they could have been a deciding factor.

Court documents show that Burnam believed that iPads and other tablets were used illegally to submit many vote-by-mail applications.

State District Judge Robert McFarling of Denton turned down Burnam’s request that Tarrant County elections officials release the applications received for mail-in ballots in the District 90 race. Texas’ 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The Tarrant County district attorney’s office argued against releasing all the applications, saying that they are not publicly available and that they include private information.

“I would like to thank everyone who stood by me in this struggle,” Burnam said.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

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