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Special Election to Replace Farenthold Could Head to a Runoff

Nine candidates are on ballot Saturday in Texas’ 27th District

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has yet to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has yet to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Voters in Texas’ 27th District will head to the polls Saturday for a special election to replace former Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned in April. But the election might not be over for two more months. 

With nine candidates from multiple parties competing on one ballot, it is possible they could divide the vote and no one will secure a majority to win the seat outright. That would prolong the election to a runoff, likely in September.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott pushed for the special election to be held earlier than state law stipulated after Farenthold resigned. He said the district, situated along the state’s Gulf Coast, needed representation in Congress after being hit hard by Hurricane Harvey last year. Farenthold resigned amid an ongoing House Ethics investigation after revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment case. 

Multiple candidates from both parties are on Saturday’s ballot, since there is no partisan primary for a special election. The winner will serve out the rest of Farenthold’s current term.

Before he resigned, Farenthold had already announced he would not seek re-election, prompting a crowded field to replace him. Both parties’ nominees for the general election in November are also on the special election ballot Saturday. Republicans chose Michael Cloud, the former chairman of the Victoria County GOP. And Democrats nominated former congressional aide Eric Holguin, who worked for New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney

Cloud is favored to win the seat in November given its Republican bent. President Donald Trump carried the district by 24 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

Cloud is one of three Republicans on Saturday’s special election ballot, including his onetime primary opponent — former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun — who endorsed Cloud after losing to him in the May 22 GOP runoff for the full term, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported

A third Republican, Marty Perez, is also running in the special election. He has self-funded his campaign, contributing $128,000 of his own money.

Abbott called for voters to back Cloud last week, saying in a statement that voters in the district needed a leader in the nation’s capital to advocate resources so they can recover from the disastrous storm. Abbott also appeared to reference Farenthold’s scandal by saying Cloud would “restore integrity to the office.”

Cloud was endorsed by the conservative Club for Growth PAC in the GOP primary. Its independent expenditure arm spent nearly $652,000 on the race backing him and attacking Bruun.  

Holguin’s former opponent for the full term, Raul “Roy” Barrera, is also on Saturday’s ballot. The Texas Tribune reported Barrera has not been campaigning since losing to Holguin in May. 

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