Texas has a new secretary of state.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Ruth Ruggero Hughs to fill the vacancy left by his unconfirmed nominee David Whitley, who left office in May at the end of the legislative session.
The secretary of state is the chief elections officer in Texas, assisting in the administration of elections and the enforcement of the Texas Election Code.
Hughs is an attorney who worked in private practice and the Texas attorney general’s office as the director of defense litigation before being appointed to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in 2015.
“Ruth is a proven leader who has done a tremendous job as both a commissioner and the chair of the Texas Workforce Commission,” said Abbott in a press release. “She has built strong relationships with the business community throughout Texas and has helped lead the way in developing the best workforce in the nation. I am proud to appoint Ruth as Secretary of State and I am confident that her experience at the Texas Workforce Commission will translate into success in this new role. Under Ruth’s leadership, we will continue to build the Texas brand on the international stage and uphold the integrity of our elections.”
Hughs’ predecessor, Whitley, who served as Abbott’s chief of staff before his nomination, was appointed to the position in December of 2018. However, a month later, Whitley’s office oversaw a botched rollout of a program to verify the citizenship status of registered voters by comparing voter lists to Texas DPS data. The initial lists of possible violations sent to county elections offices across the state included names of voters who had become naturalized citizens after interacting with DPS, an error that prompted lawsuits by Democrat-aligned groups.
Whitley’s term was cut short in May after he did not receive a two-thirds approval in the Texas Senate.
Hughs’ appointment as secretary of state leaves a vacancy at the TWC that will also be filled via gubernatorial appointment.