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The Nation

Venue Question Delays Suit Over Candidate's Party Swap

August 14, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

PLAQUEMINE, La. — A lawsuit seeking to remove U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander from the November ballot because he switched to the Republican Party at the last minute was delayed Friday as lawyers wrangled over whether the case should be heard in state or federal court.

Alexander stunned Democrats last week when he changed his party affiliation 15 minutes before the qualifying period for the Nov. 2 election was to end.

Democrats filed suit in state court, charging that Alexander violated Louisiana election laws by effectively withdrawing from the race and entering again.

Alexander's lawyers say that since his constitutional right to run for office is at issue, the case properly belongs in federal court.

U.S. District Judge James Brady, assigned to hear the question of venue, is former chairman and executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Because of possible claims of conflict of interest, Brady gave lawyers until Monday to file objections to his deciding where the case should be heard.

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