McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — An emergency special election will be held June 14 to fill a South Texas congressional seat that was vacated last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday, citing a surge of migrants at the border as a reason for quickly filling the seat.
U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr., who served five terms and represented Texas’ Congressional District 34, resigned Thursday night.
In a proclamation announcing the emergency special election, Abbott cited the growing surge of immigrants at the South Texas border.
He said that the Gulf Coast region is within a Disaster Declaration he issued in 2021 due to the increase in undocumented migrants crossing the border north from Mexico.
It also is an area that is still greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is imperative to fill this vacancy to ensure that Congressional District 34 is fully represented as soon as possible,” Abbott’s proclamation reads.
Candidates must file their applications with the Texas Secretary of State by 5 p.m. on April 13.
Early voting for the seat will begin on Tuesday, May 31, Abbott said.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents District 15 but is running for District 34 in the fall, told Border Report that he would not run for the seat if an emergency special election is called. He already is the Democratic candidate for November, having received more than 50% of votes in the primary election.
“I intend to stay in District 15 until the end of the term and I will be on the ballot in the newly drawn District 34, that includes my home this November,” Gonzalez said last month.
He said that Democratic party leadership in the region are earmarking several viable candidates to run in the emergency special election.
He told Border Report that “we have a great candidate. They will win the special (election).” He said the person is expected to be named on Tuesday.
Gonzalez’s home was moved from District 15 to District 34 under redistricting plans drawn by the Republican-led Texas Legislature.
Republican nominee Mayra Flores, who is running for Vela’s seat in November against Gonzalez, last week said she would run if a special emergency election was called.
Republicans are hoping to flip the border districts red in 2023.