Elections 2020FederalGOP District Leaders Will Select Rep. John Ratcliffe’s Replacement Nominee, Candidates Vie for Spot

With a recently vacated seat in Texas' Fourth Congressional District, precinct and county Republican leaders will need to select a replacement nominee for November's ballot.
May 22, 2020
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Rep. John Ratcliffe’s confirmation to be the new Director of National Intelligence leaves a vacancy in Texas’ Fourth Congressional District.

While Governor Greg Abbott could hold a special election to fill the seat sooner, he has reportedly decided to leave the seat vacant until the winner of November’s general election steps in at the beginning of the new Congress in January.

Under Texas law, the Republican Party will need to select a replacement for Ratcliffe’s place on the ballot.

However, the process for choosing his replacement will not be through a standard election that is open to all voters.

Instead, the party will select a new nominee through votes from a Congressional District Executive Committee (CDEC) made up of the GOP county and precinct chairs who reside in the district.

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A little under 150 members will be included in the CDEC, according to lists of the precinct and county chairs from the Texas Secretary of State and the Texas Republican Party.

Counties within the district include:

  • Bowie County
  • Camp County
  • Cass County
  • Collin County (partial, five percent)
  • Delta County
  • Fannin County
  • Franklin County
  • Grayson County
  • Hopkins County
  • Hunt County
  • Lamar County
  • Marion County
  • Morris County
  • Rains County
  • Red River County
  • Rockwall County
  • Titus County
  • Upshur County (partial, 67 percent)

According to a letter sent to party chairs in the district, Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said that the GOP only has a three-week window to select a candidate.

The new County Executive Committee terms begin on August 3, and the secretary of state’s deadline for a replacement nominee is on August 24.

Consequently, the CDEC has been scheduled to meet on Saturday, August 8 in Sulphur Springs where they will elect a nominee.

A majority of members are required for a quorum, and the candidate who receives a majority of votes will be elected.

Anticipating Ratcliffe’s confirmation, several Republican candidates have already announced their intention to seek the nomination:

  • Trace Johannesen is a veteran and current council member for the City of Rockwall.
  • TC Manning is a Navy veteran who previously ran in the Republican primary for Texas’ 18th Congressional District, held by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). 
  • Floyd McLendon, another Navy veteran who recently lost a primary race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.
  • Jason Ross is Ratcliffe’s former district chief of staff.

According to Dickey, “The qualifications for running for the Congressional Nomination in the CDEC process are the same as for candidates who file to run for congressional office in the Primary, except no application forms, filing fees, or petitions are required.”

Under these circumstances without any sort of filing deadlines, members of the CDEC could nominate and vote for any candidate at the last minute.

As a result, other leaders and elected officials in the area may consider pursuing a nomination.

State Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) has reportedly said that he is not pursuing the seat at this time. 

Matt Langston, a spokesman for Shelley Luther, the salon owner who rose to prominence for continuing to operate her business despite the state’s lockdown policies, told The Texan, “While no final decision has been made, [Luther] is currently focused on getting businesses back up and running, standing up to out of control local governments, and helping individuals that have been caught up in the legal net of COVID.  She is keeping all of her options open.”

With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+28, the district is solidly Republican. However, a Democratic nominee, Russell Foster, will be on the ballot.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.