Barring a couple of changes of heart or a couple of absences, acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley will not be confirmed for the job, thanks to united opposition from Texas Senate Democrats.
Whitley has been under fire for the last month, following his questioning the citizenship of nearly 100,000 Texas voters. Whitley's data, which he passed on to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and county election officials for investigation, turned out to be flawed because it failed to account for naturalized citizens, among other problems. Three lawsuits have been filed against the state, challenging the list and any action that might be taken because of it.
Thursday seemed to mark a breaking point in Whitley's confirmation bid. More than 30 organizations — including the Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Democratic Party and Texas Civil Rights Project — issued a letter calling on Texas Senate Democrats to vote Whitley down. One by one, the Senators who'd failed to take a side publicly announced their opposition to Gov. Greg Abbott's nominee, culminating in the following statement from conservative Brownsville Democrat Eddie Lucio Jr.
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"Secretary Whitley has apologized and — as a man of faith — I accept his apology; however, forgiveness does not mean favor. I'm not ready to vote on the appointment of David Whitley, and it's clear he does not have the votes for consideration. I had hoped a ruling on the LULAC lawsuit would offer additional input on the matter; I do not support a confirmation vote at this time," Lucio said.
Whitley's nomination, for now, remains in the hands of the Texas Senate Nominations Committee. If the committee doesn't pass the nomination to the full Senate for a vote, Whitley can serve until the end of the 2019 legislative session in May. At that point, Abbott could appoint someone to serve until the beginning of the next legislative session in 2021. If Whitley is voted down, he'll be required to vacate his post immediately.