Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered a January 23 special election to fill the unexpired House term of Sen.-elect Drew Springer (R-Muenster). Early voting begins January 11 – two weeks from today (Monday). Candidates must file with the Secretary of State by January 4. Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley (R) and Jacksboro ISD trustee David Spiller (R) have announced their candidacies.

Expedited special elections are governed by Section 203.013, Election Code. It applies to vacancies created during the 60 days prior to the beginning of “any session” of the Texas Legislature and during a regular legislative session that still has at least 25 days left before it adjourns sine die.

If a runoff election is required to fill HD68, then it must be held “on a Tuesday or Saturday occurring not earlier than the 12th day or later than the 25th day after the date the election is ordered.” It cannot be ordered until the special election is canvassed, which must occur within 10 days following election day, which is February 2.

We can use the timing of the 2019 special and runoff elections for HD145 and HD125 as guides to potential timing of a runoff election if one is needed (The recent SD30 special elections were not covered by the provisions of law authorizing expedited elections.),

For HD145, Abbott (R) ordered the January 29 special election on December 21, 2018, the day that Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) was sworn in after winning a special election for SD6. On February 11, a Monday not quite two weeks after the special election, Abbott ordered a March 5 runoff election. The runoff occurred on the 22nd day after it was ordered. Rep. Christina Morales (D-Houston) was sworn in on March 18.

HD125 also required a special election in 2019 following then-Rep. Justin Rodriguez’s (D-San Antonio) resignation to become a Bexar County Commissioner. On January 7, 2019, Abbott ordered a February 12 special election. On February 22, he ordered a March 12 runoff election. The runoff occurred on the 18th day after it was ordered. Rep. Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio) was sworn in on March 21.

If Abbott issues his proclamation ordering a runoff election no later than February 4, a Thursday, then the earliest runoff election day would be February 16, a Tuesday. The latest day such a runoff could occur would be February 27, a Saturday. Canvassing would occur within 10 days of the runoff, making March 1 the likely earliest date a new representative could be sworn in (although February 26 could be possible depending on county canvass dates), assuming the race goes to a runoff. If there is no runoff, then a new representative could be sworn in as early as February 2.

The deadline to file legislation for the upcoming session is March 12. The session convenes on January 12 – two weeks from tomorrow (Tuesday).

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