Sixty-eight Texans filed declarations of intent to run as independent candidates for state and federal offices in 2018, up from 15 for 2016. Forty-two independent candidates filed for U.S. representative, six for U.S. senator and eight for Governor. We have updated our Crib Sheets to include these filings.

Independent candidates were required to file their declarations of intent by December 11, the same deadline for partisan candidates, but their spots on the ballot are not yet guaranteed.

Independents must obtain signatures from registered voters who did not vote in either party’s primary (and runoff, if applicable) or participate in a minor party’s nominating conventions. The deadline for independents to submit signatures is June 21. They may not start gathering signatures until March 7. If a primary runoff was needed for the office they are seeking, then they may not begin obtaining signatures until May 23.

Candidates running for Congress, state senator and state representative must collect the lesser of 500 signatures or 5% of all votes cast for governor in 2014 in the district. The U.S. Senate candidates need 47,183 signatures, which is 1% of the votes cast for governor in 2014.

Historically, most independent candidates fail to gather sufficient signatures to be certified for the ballot. Only one of the 15 candidates who filed declarations of intent for the 2016 general election ballot successfully obtained the minimum number of signatures: then-Rep. Laura Thompson (I-San Antonio), who won a special runoff election as an independent. She was the first independent to win a congressional or legislative seat, or statewide office, in Texas since 1936.

Any candidate wishing to run in 2018 who has not yet filed for partisan office or filed a declaration of intent to run as an independent must file as a write-in candidate. The filing period for write-in candidates begins on July 21, 2018, and runs until August 20.

AG: District Judge Robert Johnson (D) has taken the criminal cases against Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) off of his court’s docket. Prosecutors have asked several times to delay the cases while they pursue getting paid for their work. The Court of Criminal Appeals is expected to hear the prosecutors’ claim on January 10.

SD4: Conroe resident and State Democratic Executive Committee member Griffin Winkworth established a campaign committee for a potential 2020 challenge of Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe). Creighton is not up for re-election in 2018.

HD80: The Third Court of Appeals has denied Former Webb County Judge Danny Valdez’s petition to place his name on the Democratic primary ballot. Valdez mailed his application to a former address of the Texas Democratic Party. In a two-page ruling, Justice Cindy Olson Bourland found that the Legislature “unambiguously placed the risk of untimely delivery or nondelivery on the candidate who mails his or her application and filing fee, and the facts presented neither justify nor authorize a departure from that allocation.” Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) is otherwise unopposed for re-election.

Campaign Finance: Sunday is the last day in the current campaign finance period for federal, state and, where required, local candidiates. January semiannual campaign finance reports are due for state and local (where required) candidates on January 16. These reports cover contributions and expenditures from July 1 to December 31. Year-end campaign finance reports are due for federal candidates on January 31. These reports cover contributions and expenditures from October 1 to December 31.

Ethics Commission: Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) appointed Austin attorney and former lobbyist Randy Erben to succeed Chase Untermeyer on the Texas Ethics Commission. Erben served as Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) legislative director in 2015.

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