Special election slated for vacated congressional seat


Taxation without representation is absolutely true for the city of Gonzales and the northern part of the county, as Congressional District 27 remains without a representative in Washington, D.C. And by the looks of it, citizens will continue to be unrepresented well into the summer — and perhaps beyond.

The vacancy began April 6 when four-term Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) quit the seat amidst a sexual harassment scandal and the insistence that he repay a $84,000 harassment claim that was covered by taxpayer dollars. Farenthold had already announced his intentions to not seek another term once his expires in January 2019, creating an electoral void that several Democrats and Republicans filled in the March primary election. That particular primary looks to conclude on May 22 with a runoff to select both parties' nominees.

A special election to fill Farenthold's seat was announced Tuesday by Gov. Greg Abbott. The June 30 election will send a rep to Washington to fill the remainder of Farenthold's term.

But the speed in which that happens is quite murky.

The Texas Tribune reported that potential candidates will have until tomorrow to file for a place on the ballot. Early voting will run June 13-26. Both Democrats and Republicans will appear on the same ticket. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote on June 30, a runoff between the top two will be held, likely in September at the latest.

That would be five months without a congressman for Gonzales and only four months in office for the newly-elected one.

The regularly scheduled election for the seat will go off as planned on Nov. 6 and will feature the winner of the Democratic runoff race between Eric Holguin and Raul “Roy” Barrera and GOP hopefuls Bech Bruun and Michael Cloud. For the June 30 special election, Holguin, Bruun and Cloud have already announced their intentions to run, which means that voters might be selecting from the same stable of names on both May 22 and June 30.

Normally, a special election date must adhere to certain rules spelled out by the Texas Election Code. In this case, the closest date for said special election would be Nov. 6, which would prolong the vacancy and no doubt confuse voters even more. Abbott chose to make this an “emergency special election” because the gerrymandered district stretches to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. He even asked for an opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton to suspend Texas laws in order to move up the date, which he agreed.

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

Abbott was immediately criticized by some for the move. Scott Braddock of Quorum Report questioned why the governor had yet to call a special session to address hurricane relief, instead of rushing to replace a congressman and suspending state law in the process.