Bell will have to contend with fellow Democrat

September 9, 2008 8:29:50 AM PDT
Former gubernatorial contender Chris Bell, now running for the state Senate, failed to knock a fellow Democratic challenger off the November ballot Monday. Bell went to court to argue that candidate Stephanie Simmons did not live in the Houston-area district long enough to qualify under state residency requirements. Simmons acknowledged she had voted outside the district in past elections but told the court she had lived in it since November.

State District Judge Scott Jenkins ruled in Simmons' favor, saying Bell did not provide enough proof that she had not established residence. Bell said he would likely not appeal the ruling, which means he'll probably face Simmons and four Republicans in November in the race to replace former Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, who resigned in May.

The race operates under special election rules -- meaning candidates of both parties can run at the same time -- even though the contest falls on the Nov. 4 general election date.

Bell, also a former radio reporter, City Councilman, congressman and unsuccessful mayoral candidate in Houston, would have a much better chance of winning without a runoff if there are no other Democrats to split the vote. Bell said Republicans were behind Simmons' candidacy. Simmons said she's a Democrat and wanted to give voters another choice.

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