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Gov. Greg Abbott sets Sept. 29 special election to replace state Sen. Pat Fallon

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State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, at his desk on the Senate floor in 2019. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday announced the special election to replace state Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, will be Sept. 29, setting off a sped-up race to fill his seat ahead of the next legislative session now that he is likely headed to Congress.

Minutes after Abbott's announcement, state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, announced his campaign for the safely red seat in Senate District 30. Springer also said he had Fallon's endorsement.

"I bring my conservative record & hard work to the race, along with a life of being raised, educated, & working in SD30," Springer tweeted.

The filing deadline for the special election will be less than a week away — Friday — and early voting begins Sept. 14, according to Abbott's proclamation.

Abbott invoked what is known as an "emergency special election" to schedule the contest on a tighter timeline than usual. He cited the need for SD-30 to have representation when the Legislature returns in January, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, county and precinct chairs selected Fallon to replace former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, on the fall ballot after Ratcliffe became the director of national intelligence. While Democrat Russell Foster is also on the ballot, Fallon is expected to win in November because the district is overwhelmingly Republican.

That means political maneuvering for Fallon's Senate seat began as soon as he won the congressional nomination. Springer quickly made clear he was considering a run and another Republican in the mix, Shelley Luther, announced her candidacy Saturday. Luther is the Dallas salon owner who was jailed earlier this year over her refusal to shut down her business due to the pandemic.

Denton Mayor Chris Watts may also be a candidate. He appointed a campaign treasurer for the Senate seat two days after Fallon became the congressional nominee.

The timing of the special election had been up in the air in recent days because Fallon had not vacated the seat yet and said as recently as Wednesday he was still figuring out when to give it up. Fallon ended up resigning in a letter to Abbott dated Saturday, saying the resignation would be effective at midnight Jan. 4.

The winner of the special election will finish Fallon's term, which goes until January 2023.

SD-30 covers an area of North Texas that wraps around the Dallas-Fort Worth area to the north — up to the Oklahoma border — and to the west, extending over to Wichita Falls.