Update at 11:43 a.m.: Attorney General Eric Holder officially has Dallas County's back:
Holder statement on new Texas voter ID lawsuit: pic.twitter.com/YhdZstRCLF
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 22, 2013
Original post: On Tuesday, Dallas County Commissioners voted 3-2 to join Congressman Marc Veasey in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Texas' voter ID law. The decision, County Judge Clay Jenkins argued, was a necessary step toward protecting the voting rights of the estimated 220,000 Dallas County voters who lack an approved, state-issued ID, like a driver's license or concealed handgun permit.
The vote inspired a predictable backlash from Republicans. Commissioner Mike Cantrell issued a statement calling it "a dangerous precedent to be committing the Dallas County treasury for purely partisan politics." Dallas County Republican Chair Wade Emmert was more colorful in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.
"Marc Veasey went looking for a sugar daddy, and Dallas County, with Clay Jenkins and Craig Watkins, is coming to his aid," Emmert said.
Jenkins, for his part, had a response at the ready. "It is sad and predictable that the Republican Party chair used sexist language to describe our efforts to protect the voting rights of African-American and Hispanic citizens in Dallas County," he told the Morning News.
As for Cantrell's charge, Jenkins was able to give his answer to a national audience Wednesday on MSNBC -- a great, nonpartisan choice of venue, by the way. "Only a cynical professional politician could believe that the right to vote is all about politics."
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Watkins joined Jenkins for the MSNBC interview, the pair of them blinking awkwardly at the camera against a backdrop of downtown Dallas.
"Unfortunately, our state elected officials chose to use tax dollars to disenfranchise voters, to take away their constitutional rights," he said, comparing voter ID to a poll tax. "We felt in necessary that we restore those rights and we protect the citizens we represent in Dallas County.
Watch it below: