Politics

Special Election For Farenthold’s Seat Set For June 30

If necessary, runoff would likely be in September

The special election to replace former Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold is set for June 30. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called a June 30 special election to fill former Rep. Blake Farenthold’s seat.

The filing deadline for candidates is Friday at 5 p.m. local time. Registered voters in Texas’ 27th District can cast their ballots during the early voting period from June 13 through June 26.

There will not be a primary for the special election. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote-earners will face off in a runoff that will “likely be held in September,” Abbott’s office said in a news release Tuesday.

Farenthold retired earlier this month amid an Ethics Committee probe into the congressman and his office for alleged sexual harassment, inappropriate comments to staff, and discrimination based on gender.

Abbott had to perform some legal gymnastics to even call the June 30 election. When Farenthold resigned on April 6, state election laws prohibited the governor from scheduling an election until the Nov. 6 midterms.

Watch: Farenthold Resigns from Congress

But a section of the Texas Government Code says the governor can suspend certain laws and take “necessary action in coping with a disaster” in extraordinary circumstances.

Citing the 27th District’s continuing recovery from Hurricane Harvey last August, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, per Abbott’s request, issued a non-binding opinion Monday that paved the way for Abbott to bypass the prohibitive laws and call the election sooner.

“All counties contained within this district continue to be under the state disaster declaration related to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, making it imperative that we fill this vacancy as soon as possible,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “Hurricane relief efforts depend heavily on action at the federal level, which can only occur if Texans residing in disaster zones have full and effective representation in Congress.”

Three candidates who are competing in their party’s primaries for the general election in November have already said they will file for the special election.

Republicans Bech Bruun, a Texas Water Development Board chairman, and Michael Cloud, a former county GOP chairman, told the Texas Tribune they will file to run.

Democrat Eric Holguin, who faces Raul “Roy” Barrera in the May 22 runoff, will join them on the ballot.

The 27th District is expected to remain in GOP hands this cycle. President Donald Trump carried the district by 23 points in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

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