HD120: Early voting begins Monday to fill the remainder of former Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon’s (D-San Antonio) term. Democrat Lou Miller faces Laura Thompson, who is running as an independent. A Thompson win would make history. An independent candidate has not been elected to the Texas House since 1932.

Neither candidate won the Democratic primary this spring (Barbara Gervin-Hawkins is the nominee after winning the runoff.), so the special runoff election winner has a very tough road to winning a full term. Thompson could still qualify for the general election ballot as an independent. Miller could qualify as a write-in candidate.

Challenge to Judicial Elections Filed. Claiming that “Latinos have been prevented from participating fully in the election of Texas’s high court judges,” a federal lawsuit filed today seeks to end electing Supreme Court justices and Court of Criminal Appeals judges statewide. The lawsuit claims that statewide judicial elections dilute minority voters under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The lawsuit cites the low success rate of Latino candidates who ran for the top court since 2002 and claims “even among the elected Latino judges, few, if any, were the Latino community’s candidate of choice.”

The lawsuit seeks the “implementation of a new method of election,” which presumably would entail single-member districts.

It was filed in the Corpus Christi-based U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on behalf of six Nueces Co. voters and an El Paso Co. voter.

Smith Co.: The commissioners court unanimously voted to appoint Tyler attorney and former Tyler city council member Nathaniel Moran as Acting Smith County Judge. Moran will serve until the end of County Judge Joel Baker’s suspension or the end of his term, which ends in 2018. Moran was elected to the city council three times.

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended Baker without pay in June following his indictment on three charges of official misconduct. The charges stem from accusations Baker violated open meetings laws during the process of approving a contract implementing camera enforcement of school zone speed limits.