HOUSTON — State Rep. Daniel Huberty will be in Harris County District Court Friday in an effort to force challenger Reginald Grant off the March Republican primary ballot.
Huberty, in court records, says that Grant does not live in Huffman, where the contested District 127 is located, but rather he lives at a Houston address.
“Public records show that since at least December 2016 Grant in fact resides at Wayward Lane, not Huffman as he claimed in his campaign filings,” a Huberty court brief reads. “Grant is relying on an address where he does not reside as a pretext to qualify as a candidate for the District 127 seat.”
The Friday hearing comes in the wake of Huberty suing the Republican party in an effort to disqualify Grant from being a part of the ballot draw, which determines where candidates are listed on the ballot.
A judge rejected that effort Dec. 20.
“It’s shameful that Dan Huberty had to resort to these legal dirty tricks,” Grant said in a statement. “I think the people of the district deserve a choice, and considering that no one else is running in the primary or general election, if Huberty kicks me off the ballot, he runs unopposed.”
Grant added: “That’s just wrong, it’s unfair to the voters to deny them any choice, and I hope Huberty would reimburse the Republican Party for the legal costs he’s wasted on this.”
Hubert, though, has filed nearly 50 pages of exhibits with public records and social media posts which purport to show that Grant does not live in the district he’s running for.
“We maintain that Mr. Grant does not reside at the address that he put on his filing form, and that he has not lived there in over a year,” Huberty consultant Allen Blakemore told The Texas Monitor. “He has no intention of returning there, which would be the key operating point.”
Grant is going through a divorce, and, at times has been away from his home in the district, where he has resided for more than six years.
That home, Grant told the court “is my home and fixed place of habitation to which I intend to return after any temporary absence.”
Grant also told the court he will find another home in his district when his divorce is finalized.
“Several months ago, I sought the assistance of a real estate agent in order to obtain a new residence in District 127,” he said. “I am interested in remaining in that community because my two children attend school in the district and I want to remain there.”
Blakemore dismisses Grant’s claims.
“He doesn’t live there and any claim of returning there,” Blakemore said. “He’s not going to return to the home of his estranged wife.”
To run for office, state law says you must have “resided continuously in the state for 12 months and in the territory from which the office is elected for six months.”
But state law has many grey areas when it comes to residency and public office.
The state’s election law also describes residence as “one’s home and fixed place of habitation to which one intends to return after any temporary absence.”
You don’t lose your residence by temporarily moving somewhere else and you don’t necessarily become a resident of another place if it’s not your intention to stay at that place.
Because the law is so loose, Grant said he believes it is being used just to keep all competition out of the March 6 primary.
“It’s wrong when people have no options, and it’s wrong when a long-time well-funded candidate wastes money by filing frivolous lawsuits against other people in his party, and even against his own party,” Grant said.
Indeed, recent years have seen few challengers in state elections.
In 2016 in Texas, 42 out of 150 legislators faced a primary challenge. Only one-third of Texas House Republicans faced primary challenges.
The district in which Huberty and Grant are running for is the shape of a marching soldier and covers the Harris county communities of Kingwood, Humble, Houston, Atascocita, and Huffman.
Editor’s note: The Huberty and Grant hearing was postponed Friday until early January.
Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.