Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) defeated Pilot Point salon owner Shelley Luther, 56%-44%, in today’s (Saturday’s) special runoff election. Springer will serve the unexpired term of Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who is resigning to serve in Congress.

Springer won 11 of the district’s 14 counties, including five where Luther finished ahead of him in the first round. His biggest improvement came in Denton Co., where he received just 17% of the vote in the special election. Springer won the county, 62%-38%. Luther won Collin (50.6%), Grayson (53.3%) and Parker (51.3%) Cos. Turnout was just south of 15% of registered voters.

Springer received 47% more votes in the runoff than in the special election while Luther’s vote total grew by just 13%.

In a statement, Luther congratulated Springer and said the campaign emboldened her. “I won’t back down,” Luther said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

An expedited special election will be needed to fill Springer’s House seat. Section 203.013, Election Code provides that the election “must be held on a Tuesday or Saturday occurring not earlier than the 21st day or later than the 45th day after the date the election is ordered” by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The filing deadline could be as early as the fifth day after the election is ordered.

HD68 includes 22 counties ranging from the northern cities of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to the Panhandle. The district’s largest cities include Bowie, Childress, Floydada, Gainesville, Graham, Haskell, Jacksboro, Nocona, Olney, Post, Quanah and Vernon.

Apportionment Ruling: On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that it is too soon to determine the legality of the Trump Administration’s policy to exclude undocumented immigrants from the data used to allocate U.S. House districts. In essence, the plaintiffs lacked standing at this point in time because it is unclear how, or even if, this policy could be implemented.

The ruling did not address any substantive issues raised in the case.

Timing is one of the key issues here. At issue was President Trump’s July memorandum instructing the U.S. Commerce Secretary to exclude undocumented immigrants from the “apportionment base,” which is used to allocated 435 congressional districts among the states. Excluding all undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base would cost Texas two or three congressional seats.

In September, a three-judge District Court found that the plaintiffs had standing because the memorandum was “chilling aliens and their families from responding to the census, thereby degrading the quality of census data.” The response period has since closed, so this particular “chilling” effect could no longer be felt.

“At present, this case is riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review,” said the unsigned opinion. “The Government’s eventual action will reflect both legal and practical constraints, making any prediction about future injury just that – a prediction.” In other words, any downstream effects of implementing the memorandum, which “may not prove feasible to implement in any manner whatsoever,” is simply conjecture. Thus, “judicial resolution of this dispute is premature.”

The Court’s three liberal justices dissented, arguing that the policy on its face violated the U.S. Constitution, and the Court should make that determination. “The question is ripe for resolution,” wrote Justice Stephen Breyer. The uncertainty around how the policy would be implemented “does not warrant our waiting to decide the merits of the plaintiffs’ claim.”

The U.S. Census Bureau is required to provide state population totals by December 31. These totals are used to apportion congressional seats using a complex formula. Challenges related to COVID-19 and discrepancies in counts for certain groups – particularly people living in group quarters – may require a late submission. More detailed data, which is used for redistricting, may not be available until late spring.

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