UPDATED January 5.
North Texas voters will soon head to the polls for yet another rushed special election, this time to fill a Texas House seat abandoned after a contentious special election and subsequent runoff for a vacated state Senate seat.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott set January 23 as the date for the special election to represent Texas House District 68, the spot vacated by State Rep. Drew Springer (R–Muenster) after he won a December special runoff for Senate District 30.
House District 68 includes 22 rural North Texas counties: Childress, Collingsworth, Cooke, Cottle, Crosby, Dickens, Fisher, Floyd, Garza, Hall, Hardeman, Haskell, Jack, Kent, King, Montague, Motley, Stonewall, Throckmorton, Wheeler, Wilbarger, and Young.
Early voting will begin on January 11.
State election law dictates the process for filling legislative vacancies. An “expedited election” is called if a vacancy occurs “during the 60 days immediately prior to the date of convening any session of the legislature.”
No primary election is held. Instead, candidates from all parties compete in the special election, and if none receive a majority of the votes, then the top two finishers go to a special runoff.
The filing deadline for candidates was January 4.
Four Republicans filed to run in the reliably red district: John Berry, a financial planner who served half a term as a Jack County commissioner; Jason Brinkley, a lawyer and former justice of the peace who is midway through his second term as Cooke County judge; Craig Carter, a Nocona businessman and philanthropist who ran in the recent special state Senate election; and David Spiller, a lawyer who served as Jacksboro’s city attorney for more than 30 years and a Jacksboro school board trustee for more than 20 years.
Democrat Charles Gregory, a retired postal worker from Childress, is the fifth candidate in the race.
The cascade of special elections was set in motion when then-State Sen. Pat Fallon (R–Prosper) announced his resignation from the Senate District 30 seat halfway through his four-year term to run for an open congressional spot.
Abbott then called for an expedited special election to fill the remaining two years in Fallon’s term of serving SD 30, which covers 14 mostly rural North Texas counties.
Springer immediately entered the special state Senate race as Fallon’s chosen successor, while also running for a fifth House term.
Springer and political newcomer Shelley Luther each earned 32 percent of the vote in a six-way September 29 special election, sending them to a December 19 runoff.
Springer won the SD 30 special runoff and was also re-elected in November to the HD 68 seat, which he officially declined on December 26, prompting Abbott to call yet another expedited special election.
A new HD 68 representative cannot be seated until the official election results are canvassed. In the event of a runoff, the House will be short one Republican lawmaker for several more weeks.
The 87th Texas Legislative Session begins Tuesday, January 12.