House Elections Committee: Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) appointed Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Wylie) as Chair of the House Committee on Elections. She led the committee last session. Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) was appointed Vice Chair. She served on the committee last session. Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) and Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) also return to the committee from last session. Rounding out the committee are Reps. Rodney Anderson (R-Grand Prairie), Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) and Valoree Swanson (R-Spring).

Voter Fraud Conviction: Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced that it had obtained a guilty verdict from a Tarrant Co. jury in a voter fraud case. Rosa Maria Ortega, a Mexican national, was convicted of voting illegally between 2004 and 2014. She had falsely claimed that she was a U.S. citizen on her voter registration form. Ortega was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined $5K, per a statement from Paxton’s office.

CD32: Dallas resident Steve Love has established a campaign committee to challenge U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) as a Democrat. Love also ran for CD26 as a Democrat in 2000, receiving 26% against then-U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, and as a write-in candidate in 1992.

Corpus Christi: A proposed ordinance establishing a special election for May 6 envisions a filing period running from February 28 through March 27 and early voting running from April 24 through May 2. If needed, a runoff election would be held June 24, per a PowerPoint prepared by City Secretary Rebecca Huerta. A special election is required to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Dan McQueen, who resigned abruptly just five weeks into his term. At least seven candidates have announced they would run in the special election.

Frisco: Early voting is underway for a February 18 special election to fill the unexpired term of former council member Bob Allen, who is vacating the seat to run for mayor. Nine candidates are vying for the Place 1 seat including former council member John Keating, who lost the Republican runoff for HD33 last year.

Jefferson Co.: Jeff Branick, the Jefferson Co. County Judge first elected as a Democrat in 2010, has switched parties and will seek re-election in 2018 as a Republican. He becomes the third countywide Republican elected official in the county, joining Tax Assessor-Collector Allison Gertz (elected in 2014) and County Treasurer Tim Funchess (first elected in 2010). Donald Trump narrowly carried Jefferson Co. in 2016, ending a long streak of Democratic presidential victories in the county. Trump overcame a 9K-vote disadvantage in straight-party voting, which was the smallest Democratic advantage for a presidential election year since at least 1988, the first year for which straight-party data are available, and likely much longer. U.S. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Pearland) also narrowly carried the county, and Republicans finished with 2K votes of their Democratic rivals in most other contested countywide races.

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