President Trump tweeted that he would nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath) to become the next Director of National Intelligence following Dan Coats’s August 15 departure. Ratcliffe’s nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation. Trump would name an acting director who will serve in the meantime.

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe

If he is confirmed, a special election would be required to fill his unexpired term. It is a “strong Republican” district. CD4 was 22 points redder than the state as a whole in 2018 and has been trending steadily redder over the past two decades. If there were a special runoff election, it would likely be between two Republicans.

The special election would be a “free” race for any current legislators because none would need to give up their seats to seek Ratcliffe’s, up to a point. The timing of the special election, and particularly a special runoff election, could complicate legislators’ 2020 efforts as the filing deadline will have passed. If the special election coincided with the November 5 constitutional amendment election, and it went to a runoff, then the runoff would not occur until after the filing deadline for a spot on the 2020 ballot. If the special election were later than November 5, then candidates could conceivably be running for CD4 and re-election to their own seats during the same timeframe, but on different ballots.

CD4, located in Northeast Texas, includes:

  • 35% of the voters of SD1, held by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola)
  • 27% of SD2, held by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood)
  • 19% of SD30, held by Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper)
  • 100% of HD1, held by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston)
  • 69% of HD2, held by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van)
  • 36% of HD5, held by Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant)
  • 22% of HD7, held by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview)
  • 24% of HD9, held by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Nacogdoches)
  • 58% of HD33, held by Rep. Justin Holland (R-Heath)
  • 100% of HD62, held by Rep. Reggie Smith (R-Van Alstyne); and
  • Less than 10% of HD70, held by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), and HD89, held by Rep. Candy Noble (R-Lucas).

Hefner, Holland, Smith and VanDeaver are the only current legislators living in the district, but that is not a requirement to run for Congress. Hughes is up for re-election in 2020, as are all of the representatives, but Fallon and Hall just won four-year terms in 2018. The race could be particularly attractive for Fallon, whose ability to self-fund – Fallon loaned his Senate challenge $1.8M in 2018 – would give him an instant head start on other rivals. He also just won a contested primary in counties in which he was not previously known, a feat that CD4 would also require.

Any county and many local elected officials would need to resign to run unless they were in the final 13 months of their terms. Rockwall Co. Comm. Dennis Bailey (R) and Grayson County Judge Bill Magers (R) have been mentioned as potential candidates.

Ratcliffe was first elected in 2014, when he ousted longtime U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) in the Republican runoff, 53%-47%. Hall drew four other primary challengers that year: Rockwall motivational speaker Tony Arteburn (2%), Princeton racing business owner Louis Gigliotti (16%), Van Alstyne electrical engineer Brent Lawson (3%) and former Fate council member John Stacy (4%). Ratcliffe (68%) defeated Gigliotti (21%) and De Kalb resident Ray Hall (11%) in the 2016 Republican primary, and he defeated Sulphur Springs pastor and surveyor John Cooper, 85%-15%, in the 2018 Republican primary.

HD89: The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek tweeted that Plano educator and Plano ISD Trustee Angela Powell “has decided not to move forward” with a primary challenge of Rep. Candy Noble (R-Lucas), “per person close to her.” Powell established a campaign committee to explore the race last week.

HD102: Former Rep. Linda Koop (R-Dallas) announced she would seek a rematch against Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson), who ousted Koop, 53%-47%, in the 2018 general election.

©2019 Texas Election Source LLC