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Residency Controversy Surfaces in Texas Republican Senate Race

Texas Republicans are embroiled in a legal battle as they seek to disqualify one of their primary contenders, a candidate supported by Governor Greg Abbott, over residency concerns that have raised questions about his eligibility for the ballot.

Hagenbuch’s Primary Opponents Filed Lawsuits

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In the race for the only GOP-held Senate seat open in 2024 in North Texas, two of Brent Hagenbuch’s primary opponents have filed lawsuits challenging his candidacy.

Candidates in the Fray

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The competition features four Republican candidates: Hagenbuch, emergency room physician Carrie de Moor, conservative activist and attorney Jace Yarbrough, and former police officer Cody Clark.

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Residency Requirements

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The primary dispute revolves around Hagenbuch’s residency status. Opponents cite the Texas state Constitution, which stipulates that candidates for legislative office must have resided in the district they aim to represent for at least one year before the election. This requirement implies that all four candidates should have been residents of Senate District 30 since November 5, 2023.

Residency Controversy

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Hagenbuch, a Denton County businessman and former county GOP chair, listed his address as an office building within the district when he filed his candidacy. He claimed to have lived in the district for a month and a half at that time.

Rivals Point To Other Documents

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However, his rivals argue that various records, including property, tax, and voter registration documents, as well as his participation in the November 2023 election, suggest otherwise. They contend that he resided in a neighboring district as of November 5.

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Political Backing

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Hagenbuch enjoys the support of Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in his quest to succeed retiring Senator Drew Springer, while De Moor has the endorsement of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Opponents’ Actions

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All three of Hagenbuch’s primary opponents have taken action to address the concerns regarding his residency. De Moor filed a lawsuit in Denton County, Yarbrough has sought intervention from the Second Court of Appeals, and Cody has requested an investigation by the Texas Rangers.

Setbacks and Hearing Postponement

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Thus far, these efforts have not yielded results. De Moor’s challenge faced a setback when the hearing was postponed after it emerged that Hagenbuch had submitted a filing arguing that he had essentially resided in the “corporate apartment” he leased within his office building.

The rescheduled hearing is set for January 19, just a day before mail ballots must be sent out to military and overseas voters. The primary itself is scheduled for March 5.

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Campaign Reactions

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Hagenbuch’s campaign responded strongly to the attempts to disqualify him, likening his Republican rivals to Democrats who sought to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential election ballots. His spokesperson, Allen Blakemore, accused his opponents of fearing the candidate and trying to eliminate him from the race.

Last-Minute Lease Disclosure

De Moor’s lawyer raised suspicions about Hagenbuch’s last-minute lease filing, questioning why it had only surfaced shortly before the hearing. The judge, Lee Gabriel, expressed her perplexity at the timing of the disclosure and granted de Moor’s request to reschedule the hearing.

Hagenbuch’s lawyer denied any strategic intent behind the timing and attributed it to a heavy workload.

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