Why Is Rick Perry Rushing the Special Election to Replace Glenn Hegar?

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Why is Rick Perry rushing to hold the election for Glenn Hegar’s seat in the State Senate so quickly that seniors, the disabled, and deployed military may not be able to vote?

Glenn Hegar, who won the statewide race for Comptroller on the back of his leadership on conservative issues that have nothing to do with revenue estimates and his impressive Ray-bans tan, was not up for re-election to his Senate seat this year. Now that he will move on to Comptroller, he has resigned his seat effective December 5.

Rick Perry evidently can’t wait to fill the vacancy, and last Friday he used the “emergency election” statute to call for a special election on December 6th. The filing deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday November 19. Read the order here.

How does Rick Perry expect the ballots to be ready on time?

Early Voting will begin Wednesday, November 26th, giving the 21 County Clerks in the district only three business days to prepare ballots for multiple formats of voting machines.

Thanksgiving falls on the second day of early voting, and county offices are likely to be closed the following weekend, with early voting ending December 2nd. So there will be a total of three voting days for early voting in the special election. The election will occur on Saturday, December 6th.

One of the major questions swirling around this hasty process is why Rick Perry wants to disenfranchise seniors, the disabled, and military members. It is practicably impossible for any overseas member of the military to get a ballot, and senior citizens and disabled voters will likely not be able to request and receive a mail ballot in time. The rushed filing deadline and close printing deadline and holiday weekend will make it extremely challenging for even annual mail voters to get a ballot, let alone anyone that wants to specifically apply to vote by mail in this runoff.

Who is Rick Perry trying to help here?

There are three announced candidates so far, all Republicans, who have been looking at the race since Hegar won his primary in March:

  • State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham who currently holds HD-13 and was first elected in 2000
  • Gary Gates, a wealthy businessman who lost to Hegar in the 2006 SD-18 primary (after losing to him repeatedly in the HD-28 primary), he has the endorsement of Ron Paul and bears a major resemblance to Count Orlock in the original Nosferatu
  • Charles Gregory, former Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Simonton, Texas, who seems to be campaigning on his expertise in Russian foreign policy and the fact that his gun is bigger than yours

Two more candidates are also rumored to be considering the race, and have until 5:00 p.m. to file at the Secretary of State’s office. If no one gets 50%, there will be as runoff. It is unknown how quickly that can be held.

Who benefits from the rushed schedule — long-term State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst who has been campaigning the longest, or wealthy self-funder and repeated failed candidate Gary Gates?

Also up in the air is if Perry thinks it’s vital to have all 20 Republican Senators on the floor for any rules debate on the first day of session. However if this does go to a runoff it is unclear if Perry could force the final vote before session begins on January 13.


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

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