Dave Rogers

For The Record

It looks like Republican Dean Crooks may have a November opponent in the Orange County Judge race after all.

Or maybe he will. It was all still a bit unclear at press time Tuesday night.

The county Democratic Party, after getting conflicting opinions from the Secretary of State and the state Democratic Party, says Donald Brown can be on the Nov. 6 ballot if he makes his $750 filing fee payment by noon Thursday, when Texas Democratic leaders meet online to canvass the votes of the March 6 primary.

Brown’s December filing fee check was returned in January because of insufficient funds in his bank account.

“We’ve been told by the Republicans if he’s on the ballot without paying, they’ll sue us. Mr. Brown has said he’ll sue if he’s not on the ballot,” Michael Cole, secretary of the local Democratic Party, said.

“We’ll have to decide who we’d rather have sue us.”

Tuesday afternoon, Brown, the owner of Silverstone Mortgage, was salty.

“This is the same sort of silliness that they have continued to create,” he said of the local party. “The fact that the Democratic Party seems more interested to create controversy for one of their candidates than to get them elected is quite disconcerting.”

A Vidor resident, Brown said former local party chair Mark Carter volunteered to pay the $750 fee, “so we can do what’s important for Orange County rather than partisan politics.”

For his part, Brown maintains he doesn’t have to pay the $750 because the local party certified Brown’s name for the election and it was printed on the March 6 primary ballot before the rubber check was discovered.

“The Secretary of State said the filing fee is part of the application and the application cannot be challenged after Jan. 18,” Brown said.

That ruling came after Brown hired a Houston attorney, spending $5,000, Brown said.

Initially, the Texas Democratic Party had said the NSF check disqualified Brown to be on the November ballot, since the filing fee deadline had passed.

When Crooks handily beat County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton in last week’s Republican Primary, the rookie politician said he was unsure if he had a November opponent.

He made it clear he’d prefer not to.

David Covey, county Republican Party chair, has demanded that Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos, the state’s top election official, remove Brown from the ballot.

“He is not a legitimate candidate according to statute.”

Brown said he got a call from Breitbart News Monday night, asking about an alleged threat of lawsuit by Republicans.

“The funny thing is when I’m out there just talking to real voters, and not just partisan hacks, they do not even mention this,” Brown said.

“They talk about what we can do to revitalize Orange County and, more importantly, how to get people back into their houses and get their houses rebuilt.

“There are people that are not in their houses and this is what people want to talk about?”