Appellate court rules against removing Democratic Party chair candidate from ballot

An appellate court has denied Norma Ramirez’s request to have her opponent for Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair removed from the March primary election ballot.

The 13th Court of Appeals issued its ruling Friday.

Ramirez argued that current Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Ric Godinez “erred in refusing to disqualify Danny Diaz because Diaz prematurely filed his application for candidacy and that the trial court erred by dismissing her lawsuit for want of jurisdiction,” according to the court’s ruling.

Diaz filed his application for candidacy with Godinez on Sept. 12, 2017, even though per the Texas Election Code, the filing timeframe for the 2018 Primary Election was Nov. 11 – Dec. 11, 2017. Godinez “did not return the application to Diaz or otherwise notify him of any error with regard to the application,” the ruling states.

“In balancing the competing equities, the harm to Diaz in denying him a place on the ballot due to a premature filing would be irreparable, whereas, in contrast, any harm to Ramirez would be the inability to receive a windfall in the form of an unopposed primary election,” the ruling reads. “…Further, the alleged harm to Ramirez is far outweighed by the voters’ interest in electing the candidate of their choice.”

The court also ruled that Ramirez failed to show that the election code requires Diaz to be excluded from the ballot for filing early.

Diaz’s campaign released a press release Monday which took issue with the money that went into the unsuccessful lawsuit.

“The most adverse effect that Ramirez’ lawsuit has had on this process is the thousands of dollars that were taken from the Hidalgo County Democratic Party coffers,” the release states.

Yet Ramirez stands by her decision to file the lawsuit, saying it was her effort “not to look the other way” when election rules are violated.

“It’s not about Mr. Diaz nor myself. It’s about the rule of law and preserving the elections process, which is supposed to be equal and fair to everyone and the party chair oversees that,” Ramirez said.

She said Diaz’s premature filing reflects his lack of knowledge about candidate and party rules, citing his inexperience working for the county’s Democratic Party. Ramirez is the party’s fundraising chair.

“If you’re going to be Democratic Party chair, you should at least know how to file your application — that’s the simplest thing we have to do,” Ramirez said. “… How difficult can it be for him to run a party that is all rules and policies and procedures?”