Republican Michael Cloud appears likely to win the special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold‘s seat, which would spare the GOP a runoff in the 27th District.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Cloud was leading Democrat Eric Holguin 54 percent to 33 percent, according to unofficial returns from the Texas secretary of state’s office. Cloud, a former chairman of the Victory County GOP, needs to finish above 50 percent in the nine-way race to avert a runoff later this summer.
The special election will determine who finishes Farenthold’s term, which ends in January. Both Cloud and Holguin are their party’s nominees in November for the full term that starts after that. The seven other candidates in the special election are Democrats Raul “Roy” Barrera and Mike Westergren, Republicans Bech Bruun and Marty Perez, independent candidates Judith Cutwright and Chris Suprun, and Libertarian Daniel Tinus.
The special election was triggered by Farenthold’s sudden resignation in April amid the fallout from the revelation that he used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a 2015 sexual harassment claim. Farenthold, who had already announced he would not seek re-election, also was being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.
After Farenthold stepped down, Gov. Greg Abbott had sought — and received — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s blessing to suspend state law and speed up the timeline for the special election, citing the need for the district to have representation as it continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
After word got out about the 2015 settlement late last year, Farenthold had promised to reimburse taxpayers for the $84,000, though he still has not. Shortly following Abbott’s announcement of the special election, the governor asked Farenthold to pay back the $84,000 directly to local taxpayers by covering the costs of the special election, a request Farenthold rejected.”