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Judge throws out lawsuit against transgender politician

ATLANTA - A lawsuit claiming a transgender city councilwoman tried to fool voters by running as a female was tossed Monday, clearing the way for a runoff that will decide her political fate.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit against Michelle Bruce, who is running for a second term on the Riverdale City Council. City Attorney Deana Johnson said the decision means the runoff slated for Tuesday will be held as scheduled, barring a ruling otherwise from the Georgia Supreme Court.

Bruce, 46, who runs an auto repossession business, landed one of Riverdale's four council seats in 2003 after running unopposed. She was believed to be the state's first transgender politician, and she pledged to attract more jobs and residents to Riverdale.

Her bid for a second term wasn't so easy. She attracted three opponents and captured 312 votes in the Nov. 6 election, not enough to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Wayne Hall, who earned 202 votes.

But third-place finisher Georgia Fuller, who collected 171 votes, filed a lawsuit claiming election fraud. The complaint, identifying Bruce as 'Michael Bruce,' claimed she misled voters by identifying herself as a female and asked a judge to rule the November election results invalid and order another general election.

Fuller and her attorney Mike King did not respond to phone calls Monday, but King had previously said her female name gave her an 'unfair advantage' because voters in the town tend to vote for females - particularly incumbent females.

'It's not just sour grapes,' he said. 'The people need to know whether the election is fair.'

Bruce, who won't say if she had surgery to change her gender, said she was relieved by the judge's decision.

'It was a waste of taxpayers' money and the court's time for a frivolous lawsuit,' she said. 'They're trying to derail the wish of the voters.'