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Dallas Debate Brouhaha Leads to Lawsuit

DALLAS (CN) - The race for Dallas County Commissioner has taken a nasty turn as two lawsuits were filed before Super Tuesday, one over a shoving match that broke out between candidates at a debate last week.

George Nash, of Arlington, sued Commissioner John Wiley Price in Dallas County Court on Monday. Nash is a volunteer for candidate and former Dallas mayor Dwaine Caraway and attended the debate between Price, Caraway, former Dallas City Councilman Cedric Davis and Micah Phillips at gospel radio station KHVN-AM on Feb. 22.

Nash says at some point during the radio appearance, the debate "devolved into personal attacks on character" and insults were exchanged.

"The exchange escalated into a physical confrontation with plaintiff Nash attempting to act as a barrier between defendant Price and Mr. Caraway," the 4-page complaint says.

"Defendant Price reached for plaintiff Nash and yanked him by his left arm, shouting profanity at him and placing him in apprehension of imminent bodily injury. Mr. Price then grabbed plaintiff Nash by the throat and lifted him off the floor, causing him injury."

Nash seeks damages for assault and battery. He is represented by Kristin A. Regel in Richardson.

Also Monday, Phillips filed a defamation lawsuit against Caraway over statements Caraway purportedly made to Fox-affiliate KDFW-TV three days after the debate.

"In that interview, which was broadcast by the TV news station and published on its website, defendant Caraway falsely stated Mr. Phillips was a gangster, that he was involved in shooting up the defendant's home and bus and that he was a con artist who could not be trusted," Phillips' 5-page complaint says. "As a result of defendant Caraway's affirmative statements of fact, plaintiff Phillips has incurred substantial loss of his reputation and emotional distress."

Phillips is represented by Ben C. Martin in Dallas.

Price has remained county commissioner for District 3 since 1985, running unchallenged in 2012 despite an FBI investigation that was made public at the time. He has since been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits; conspiracy to defraud the IRS; six counts of deprivation of honest services by mail fraud; and three counts of subscribing to a false and fraudulent income tax return.

Calling it a "shocking betrayal of public trust," federal prosecutors accuse Price of accepting over $950,000 in cash, cars and real estate in exchange for his support for lucrative county contracts.

A resolution to suspend Price as he awaits trial failed in the commissioners court in August 2014 and he has remained in office since.

A co-defendant in the case, political consultant Christian Campbell, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in July 2015 in exchange for a three-year federal prison sentence.

Price comfortably won the nomination on Super Tuesday with over 53 percent of the vote, according to Dallas County election officials. Caraway came in second with 23 percent.

The incumbent thanked his supporters Tuesday evening for not falling for his opponents' "gimmicks." He has not lost an election in 30 years.

Follow @davejourno
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