HD79 open: Art Fierro, the chair of the El Paso Community College board, said he would seek the seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), who announced his resignation on Saturday. Meanwhile, El Paso council member Michiel Noe, who was term-limited and could not seek re-election this year, announced he would run for the seat.

SD5: “Available evidence does not support a finding” that Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) sent illicit text messages to a Univ. of Texas graduate student, according to a publicly released executive summary from the report of the university’s investigation. In a statement, Schwertner said he does “not condone sexual misconduct of any kind” and that the “unfortunate matter is now closed.” In an unusual step, the university announced in September that it was investigating Schwertner. He won re-election over Round Rock contract manager Meg Walsh, 55%-42%, in November.

Secretary of State: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appointed David Whitley to succeed Secretary of State Rolando Pablos. Whitley was Abbott’s deputy chief of staff. His appointment will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

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