Gov. Greg Abbott has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for a legal opinion on whether Abbott can suspend state election law to call a special election “as soon as is legally possible” to fill the congressional seat left vacant when embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, resigned two weeks ago. In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton Thursday, Abbott said he is concerned that state and federal law may not allow an election earlier than September. Abbott said he is concerned that coastal Texans continuing to seek federal relief from Hurricane Harvey damage lack representation in Congress. Abbott writes in the letter that “it is imperative to restore representation” to the voters of the 27th Congressional District, which stretches from Corpus Christi to Bastrop and Caldwell counties. Abbott noted that all of the district’s 13 counties are covered by his most recent disaster declaration for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Farenthold stepped down amid sexual harassment allegations on April 6.
That was too late for Abbott to call an election to fill the remainder of Farenthold’s term on May 5, the next uniform election date. He could call it for Nov. 6, on the same ballot as the election for Farenthold’s successor for a full term starting in January.
Runoffs for both the Democratic nomination and Republican nomination to replace Farenthold are scheduled for May 22.