Committee debates District 29 vote in advance of hearing

State senators on a special committee debated an issue that will come before a federal judge Wednesday, but that didn't stop them, and it didn't stop the heated disagreement over what happened in District 29.

The latest meeting of the senate committee battling over the disputed District 29 state senate race brought a full house Tuesday.

Lawyers for Ophelia Ford, who won the race by 13 votes, defended her victory, saying efforts by Republican challenger Terry Roland to contest 44 votes, most if not all were cast by minority voters, are unfair.

"I would suggest that an attempt to use this standard under these conditions, disparately affects minority voters in District 29," said Ford lawyer David Cocke

State Elections Coordinator Brooks Thompson told senators it seemed clear that something inappropriate did take place, but he also said throwing out the race was a bad plan.

"I do not think that necessarily because one or two criminal acts took place in a polling place that it necessarily voids every vote in that precinct," Thompson said. "I think that's a decision you all have to make."

But any senate action will have to wait for a federal court ruling in Memphis. Three senators who voted to unseat Ford have been subpoenaed, and so many others have indicated they will attend the senate had to delay a Wednesday session.

"I'm so sorry about the inconvenience," Senator Ophelia Ford said. "But you know, it is an injunction, it's a federal lawsuit. Just so sorry about the inconvenience."

Roland, who has been traveling weekly between his Millington home and Nashville, told reporters he remains optimistic, despite the federal court challenge.

"We're doing it for the right reasons," Roland said. "This is not about me being the senator. This is about the people of the district."