State Sen. Rosalind Kurita has filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against the Tennessee Democratic Party's Executive Committee and a host of others over her removal as the official Democratic nominee for the 22nd Senatorial District.
The suit was filed by former state senator and Lebanon attorney Bob Rochelle, and James Bopp Jr. of Indiana. Bopp has a national federal and state election law practice, is general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former co-chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.
Kurita claims that she was denied due process of law in the hearings that cost her the Democratic nomination, that she had no avenue of appeal and that procedures used were created after her opponent, Tim Barnes, filed a complaint. She claims that all of these actions are in violation of the 14th Amendment.
The result of the August primary gave Kurita a 19-vote margin of victory, but Barnes claimed that it was "incurably uncertain" because of voter irregularities. The state executive committee agreed with Barnes and the county Democratic committees promptly named him their nominee.
In the suit, Kurita asks the court to either name her as the Democratic nominee for the 22nd District or to set aside the results of the November election and hold a special election with her as the nominee.
Bopp, lead counsel for Kurita in the case said in a release, "the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a fair hearing. The Democratic State Primary Board decided to strip Senator Kurita of her right to a fair hearing on the August primary election. Not only was Senator Kurita deprived of her Constitutional rights, the voters in her District were denied the right to have their primary votes mean anything."
Bopp also said that "the Democratic State Primary Board's decision to strip Senator Kurita of a proper hearing was made arbitrarily and capriciously. Moreover, the decision of the State Primary Board sets a dangerous precedent for overturning future elections and disregarding the expressed will of the voters."
Kurita added, "I am sure that the Court will do what is just and right in this case. I am honored that the voters of the 22nd District chose me to represent them in the general election, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that their votes count and are not disregarded as I continue to move forward with my write-in campaign and hopefully my campaign as the Democrat nominee."
Although there is no Republican nominee on the ballot, Tennessee Republicans have not been sitting on the sidelines. Prominent Republicans in the state senate – led by State Senator Randy McNally – are hosting a fundraiser for Kurita, and McNally's own legislative aide, who is actually a constituent of Kurita's, has taken a leave of absence from the state to work on her campaign.
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