I finally reached Jimmy Fahrenholtz this morning, and he says he will take this all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. He was speaking, of course, about Judge Nadine Ramseys decision to bounce him from the Second Congressional District race. He filed his notice of appeal today (Wednesday, July 23), and briefs are due at the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal at 9 a.m. tomorrow. The case is likely to be heard quickly, as election contest suits are fast-tracked by the courts.
Ramseys ruling came down yesterday (Tuesday, July 22) after a lawsuit brought by attorney Conrad Duke Williams, who lives in the New Orleans area but practices in Houma. Williams is listed as a financial contributor to one of Fahrenholtzs opponents in the Democratic congressional primary former TV news anchor Helena Moreno.
Fahrenholtz and Moreno are the only white candidates in the crowded Democratic primary field. His candidacy is a real threat to her hopes of making the runoff against embattled incumbent Bill Jefferson, who faces five major black opponents in addition to Fahrenholtz and Moreno in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary.
Williams swears that his contribution to Moreno had nothing to do with his decision to challenge Fahrenholtzs candidacy. In fact, he says, he only recently met Moreno at a local political fundraiser for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat whom Williams knows quite well. Williams was one of the sponsors of the Schweitzer fundraiser. Moreno showed up at the event and was introduced to Williams, he says, and he made a contribution to her because she impressed him as a good candidate against Jefferson. Williams tells me that he may well contribute to other candidates in that race as well. He says he filed the suit because he was tired of politicians gaming the system, as he claims Fahrenholtz has done.
Fahrenholtz, meanwhile, has filed a notice of his appeal of Ramseys decision. He confirmed that his main legal objection to Ramseys decision is his contention that qualifications for candidates for Congress are set forth in the U.S. Constitution, and states cannot impose additional restrictions. Essentially it comes down to federal law trumping state law. There is already some case law on this point, and Randall posted a very good analysis of this yesterday at The Bald Cypress.