State Sen. Sylvia Garcia resigns, Gov. Abbott sets Dec. 11 special election

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State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, the Houston Democrat who is headed to Congress, resigned Friday from the Texas Senate, leading Gov. Greg Abbott to set a Dec. 11 special election to replace her.

Abbott scheduled the special election hours after Garcia announced she was submitting a letter of resignation him, effective 12:01 p.m. It was her second effort to resign after she declared in July her “intent to resign” Jan. 2, 2019, leading to a standoff between her and Abbott’s office that held up the special election.

Garcia held a news conference Friday morning in Houston to announce her latest move to relinquish the seat, which she has held since 2013.

“I will submit to Gov. Abbott a letter of resignation effective one minute after noon today,” she said. “As I’ve always stated, my goal has been to ensure the people of Senate District 6 have seamless and high-quality representation.

By resigning at 12:01 p.m., it allows the governor to call an election with enough time for my successor to be elected, sworn in and ready to start the legislative session from Day 1.”

Garcia’s resignation fell within what is known in state law as the expedited election period, or 60 days prior to a legislative session. That gave Abbott 20 days to call the special election, and from then, the election would have to fall on a Saturday or Tuesday that’s 21 to 45 days later.

Under that timeline, the earliest the special election could have been held was late this month at the earliest and mid-January at the latest. The session starts Jan. 8.

With his proclamation, Abbott opted to act fast. The filing deadline for the special election is Nov. 16, and early voting starts Nov. 26. If a runoff is necessary, state law says it has to be held on a Tuesday or Saturday between 12 and 25 days after the special election.

Garcia easily won the election Tuesday to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, defeating Republican Philip Aronoff. The race to replace her in the state Senate informally kicked off months ago, with state Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez, both Houston Democrats, announcing campaigns shortly after Garcia won her congressional primary.

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