SD6 special: Not quite 6K people – 1.8% of registered voters – have cast ballots early in person (2K) and by mail (just under 4K) in the special election to fill the unexpired term of former Sen. and now U.S. Rep.-elect Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston). About 6K mail ballots have not yet been returned. Excluding today (Sunday), when 150 people voted early in person, the average in-person daily total for the first week was 319. In the 2013 special election for this seat, the daily in-person average was 445.

House Speaker: The House Republican Caucus chose Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as its preferred candidate by a unanimous vote. A year ago, the caucus formalized a process by which it would select a preferred Speaker candidate. At the time, Empower Texans called it a “stunning failure” that was “out of step with the Republican platform.” The group also was the single biggest contributor to Bonnen’s 2018 Republican primary opponent, Markham pastor Damon Rambo. Bonnen defeated Rambo, 77%-23%.

HD67: Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) announced he has withdrawn from the Texas Freedom Caucus. In a statement, Leach said he wanted to “recommit myself entirely to the House Republican Caucus, to working diligently with all of our fellow Republicans in the House to ensure that, as a GOP Caucus, we stay focused and make great strides” on issues important to conservatives. Leach, who defeated Democratic challenger Sarah Depew, 51%-49%, was one of several Freedom Caucus members who narrowly defeated Democratic challengers.

Dallas: Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates announced she would not run for mayor and would instead seek re-election to a fourth term, after which she would be term-limited.

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