On Nov. 6, local voters will have the opportunity to vote in two separate elections to fill the state House of Representatives District 62 seat being vacated by Rep. Larry Phillips.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he is calling a Nov. 6 special election to fill the unexpired term on Phillips’ seat. That’s the same day voters will be able to cast ballots in the general election to fill the position for a full term beginning in 2019.
“Article III, Section 13 of the Texas Constitution and Section 203.002 of the Texas Election Code require that a special election be ordered upon such a vacancy; and pursuant to Section 203.004 of the Texas Election Code, the special election must be held on the first uniform election date occurring on or after the 36th day after the date the special election is ordered,” Abbott’s statement reads.
Phillips announced he would not seek re-election to the seat last year, and then won the primary election for the 59th District Court judge position in March. As there were no Democratic Party candidates running for the position, Phillips’ win made him the judge-elect.
Phillips then sent a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus’ office dated April 23 that stated he was resigning effective Monday.
“After deciding to not seek re-election, I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve our state in a different capacity, as a district judge,” Phillips wrote.
The statement from the Governor’s Office said candidates for the special election will until Aug. 23 to get on the ballot by filing an application with the secretary of state. Early voting is slated begin on Oct. 22.
Whoever wins the special election will serve from November until the person elected to the new term takes office in January. The general election race for the full term in the seat will see voters pick between Democrat Valerie Hefner, Libertarian David Schaab and the winner of the runoff election to pick a Republican candidate between Reggie Smith and Brent Lawson. That runoff election is set for May 22.
Lawson said he did not expect Abbott to call a special election for the unexpired term of the seat now that Phillips has resigned.
“I hope that everything is well with Rep. Phillips,” Lawson said. “This is certainly an eventful election year for our district, but this is the process Gov. Abbott has to work with. I am sure the voters will navigate the situation fine.”
Smith said he doesn’t believe the special election will confuse local voters.
“I think the voters will be informed by the time we get to the special election,” Smith said. “I anticipated that something like this might happen. This is not uncommon in this scenario. When you have a state representative resign, this is one of the options available under Texas law for the spot to be filled.”
Hefner and Schaab could not be reached for comment Monday.
While no one has yet announced their candidacy for the special election, Smith said he suspects candidates may emerge after the May 22 runoff election.
Early voting for the runoff election starts May 14 and goes through May 18. Voters can cast ballots during the early voting period at the Grayson County Election Administration, 115 W. Houston, in Sherman; Grayson County Sub-Courthouse, 101 W. Woodard, in Denison; Pottsboro ISD Administration Building, 105 Cardinal Lane, in Pottsboro; Whitesboro City Hall, 111 W. Main, in Whitesboro; and Grayson College, 1455 W. Van Alstyne Parkway, in Van Alstyne.