Nine candidates are seeking the congressional seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R–Corpus Christi), with Michael Cloud as the Republican front-runner in the June 30 special election.
On April 6, Farenthold abruptly resigned his seat in Texas’ 27th Congressional District that encompasses 13 counties along the southeastern Gulf Coast. A four-term representative, Farenthold, who was first elected in 2010, withdrew his candidacy for re-election in late December and four months later resigned via video, leaving office at 5 o’clock that same afternoon. The resignation came amid sexual harassment charges from 2014, along with an $84,000 taxpayer-funded settlement that called for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
Farenthold’s resignation ended the investigation as he is no longer a House member. Thus, disgraced Farenthold abandoned his constituents devastated by the worst of Hurricane Harvey.
On April 28, Gov. Greg Abbott called for an emergency special election on June 30 for CD 27’s empty seat, with all counties in the district still under the governor’s disaster declaration. In a proclamation, Abbott stated the importance of filling the seat:
“Whereas, all counties contained within this district continue to be under the Governor’s disaster declaration related to the devastation resulting from Hurricane Harvey, and it is imperative to fill this vacancy to ensure that the 27th Congressional District is fully represented as soon as possible; and… Whereas, hurricane relief efforts depend heavily on action at the federal level, which necessitates that those people residing in the disaster zone have full and effective representation in Congress as soon as possible.”
Later, Abbott also demanded that Farenthold repay taxpayers the $84,000 he used for the sexual harassment settlement, as well as the cost for the special election due to his “disgraceful conduct.” Even though Farenthold repeatedly promised to reimburse taxpayers, records fail to indicate any reimbursement to date, stating his attorneys advised him “not to repay.”
A total of nine candidates are vying for Farenthold’s vacated seat: three Democrats, two Independents, one Libertarian, and three Republicans. Meanwhile, the November 6 general election will consist of Michael Cloud (R), Eric Holguin (D), Daniel Tunis (L), and James Duerr (I).
Cloud, a former Victoria County Republican Party chairman, is expected to win both the special election and the general election. Cloud has received the endorsement of Bech Bruun, his primary runoff opponent, who he defeated in May, in addition to the endorsements of the other four Republican candidates in the March primary.
Tad Hasse, Republican candidate for the State Board of Education District 2 stated, “Cloud is the type of Republican the DNC hates the most – a religious believer.” Cloud’s efforts as former GOP Chairman for Victoria County have been duly noted, as what was once considered a Democratic stronghold for over three decades turned Republican during Cloud’s tenure in 2013, and has stayed Republican since.
Within the hurricane-ravaged district, residency and involvement is what will ultimately matter in this special and general election. Several primary candidates didn’t live in the area, as the U.S. Constitution doesn’t stipulate residency within the district to be considered a congressional candidate.
Given the district is where Hurricane Harvey’s eyewall hit, with winds reaching over 110 mph completely destroying towns such as Rockport and Port Arthur, Cloud expressed to Texas Scorecard recognition for the role Harvey has played:
“Being a fellow resident helps, people want a representative among them. We [my family] weren’t affected nearly as much as others, however we were without electricity for days, without water for weeks, cooking on the back porch with our neighbors. Part of our story as a district is how we came together and served each other in that time. Me being on the SREC, I worked with the Republican Party statewide to get supplies to my district; my area was completely destroyed.”
A devout Christian, constitutionalist, political activist, and a family man, Cloud was encouraged to run by voters in his district. After praying about it, Cloud states,
“I’ve said this repeatedly, ‘I don’t want to go to D.C., I’m willing to go.’ I got into this race because we need someone who has the courage to step up to culture corruption in D.C. I think it’s the time for people of all walks of life to have courage, for people to not to be afraid to stand up in what we believe in and work to restore the promise our founders gave us, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’”
Campaigning for both the June special election and the November general election, Cloud said, “Every vote matters, and you have to earn every vote. We are very aware of that and will continue up until election day and after.”
Early voting commenced June 13 and ended Tuesday June 26, producing of a total of 9,048 ballots cast. Whoever wins this special election will serve the remainder of Farenthold’s term, until January 3, and will then be replaced by the winner of the November 6 election.
Election Day is Saturday, June 30.