Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston), the House Republican Caucus chair, announced he would not seek re-election, saying he is “looking forward to life’s next great opportunity.”

Murphy becomes the 13th House member elected to the 87th Legislature who will not be returning. Reps. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and James White (R-Hillister) are seeking other offices. Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) is exploring a run for mayor. Reps. Ben Leman (R-Iola), Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), Scott Sanford (R-McKinney) and John Turner (D-Dallas) are retiring. Former Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) is now in Congress, and former Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio) resigned.

So far, two senators are also not returning: Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) is running for Land Commissioner, and Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is retiring.

HD10 special: With one day to go in an abbreviated early voting period, a total of nearly 5K people have cast ballots in Ellis Co., and the number of voters has climbed each day. Just over 5,500 people – 4.5% of registered voters – cast ballots in person or by mail during the five-day early voting period for the special election.

HD118 special: With one day to go in early voting, not quite 2K people have voted in Bexar Co.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) endorsed former Rep. John Lujan (R-San Antonio). That’s a little over half the total number of early votes that was cast in the last special election for this seat in 2015, in which Lujan finished first, and about the same number as the early 2016 runoff, which Lujan won, 52%-48%.

LAND open: Austin community organizer Jinny Suh announced she would seek the office being vacated by Land Comm. George P. Bush (R) as a Democrat. Suh initially created a campaign committee to challenge Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). As far as we can tell, she is the first Democrat to take a formal step toward entering the race.

Redistricting: Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) filed a committee amendment (Map PDF) to the Senate redistricting bill that appears to impact 13 proposed district configurations. Among the changes, SD10 loses some of Parker Co. but gains Brown, Callahan, Palo Pinto, Shackelford, Stephens and Young Cos. Former President Trump received 86% of the vote in those counties.

The Senate Redistricting Committee will hold two days of hearings on the bill beginning tomorrow (Friday) morning.

Election “Audit” Legislation: Former President Trump urged Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to add legislation authorizing a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election to the special session agenda. “Despite my big win in Texas, I hear Texans want an election audit!” Trump said in a statement. “Texans have big questions about the November 2020 election.” In the statement,

Trump said Texans’ do not “trust the election system,” and their confidence in the election results “is the number one thing they care about.” According to the most recent Univ. of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll, just 1% of respondents cited “election fraud” as the “most important problem facing the state of Texas today.”

No credible evidence has been presented to support claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 general election.

During the last days of the second special session, an election “audit” bill rocketed through the Senate but did not make any progress in the House. In that chamber, Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) has again filed a bill to require “forensic audits” of election results.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s office announced it had “the authority to conduct a full and comprehensive forensic audit of any election” and is in the process of auditing Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant Cos., the “two largest Democrat counties and two largest Republican counties.” The work assumes funding is provided by the Legislature. It is worth noting that there currently is no Secretary of State. The previous one, Ruth Hughs, resigned as the regular session ended after she was not given a confirmation hearing. Earlier in the session, a top deputy declared the 2020 election “smooth and secure.”

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