Texas sets June special election to replace Farenthold

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday set a special election for June 30 to replace former GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned earlier this month after sexual harassment allegations and other improper conduct came to light last year.

The governor’s proclamation said a runoff, if needed, “would likely be held in September, 2018, at the latest.”

There are no primaries for special elections in Texas. There is an open filing process, in which candidates can file directly with the secretary of state’s office. The deadline to file is this Friday, April 27 at 5 p.m.

The district in question, Texas’ 27th congressional district, leans overwhelmingly Republican, with Farenthold winning his last re-election bid in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points.

Farenthold initially announced last year he would retire after accusations of sexual harassment became public. Farenthold ultimately resigned from his seat earlier this month. California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier told CNN last week that Farenthold resigned before the House Ethics Committee could rule against him.

Abbott’s declaration on Tuesday came after he asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a letter last week for the authority to declare the election before November of this year and Paxton’s reasoning on Monday supporting the authority.

The governor’s statement on Tuesday, as well as the letters between Abbott and Paxton, reference the ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey last year as a reason to hold a special election ahead of November.

“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,” Abbott said. “I remain committed to ensuring that the 27th Congressional District is fully represented as the recovery process continues.”